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My words and my answer to those who hate me

I am a brave person with a power of confidence and knowledge who have always accepted risk in his life and I have enjoyed standing against extremism. Do what you want to do, do whatever you can do. I am a lion whose nature is to die like a soldier and live like a leader.

Organ harvesting

Organs are not useful when they are dead. They drug them first and remove the organs. Then they leave them to die. Human rights campaigner Hamdy Al-Azazy

International organ trafficking has become a huge multibillion $ business and it continues to grow. The traffickers have become more and more ruthless and have absolutely no boundaries. An example is Antonio Medina, 23 year old migrant from Central America on his way to USA with his wife were captured by a criminal gang. After being locked in separate rooms, Medina heard his wife screaming. Later on, he entered the room and saw his wife on a table with her chest wide open and without her heart and kidney. Medina was lucky; he and some others were saved by Mexican soldiers. This is the small part of global trafficking as for most of the part, organ trafficking occurs in hospitals where medical practitioners are corrupt and cooperate with traffickers because of the profit.

Poor and desperate people can earn between 3,000 to $15,000 for selling their organs, especially kidneys, to middlemen who re-sell them to wealthy buyers for as much as $200,000.

Although it happens in most of the countries, however it is more prevalent in Israel, India, China, Pakistan, Turkey, Brazil, Nepal, the Philippines, Kosovo, Iran and the former Soviet states in Eastern Europe. Most of the countries here have weak authorities and poverty makes people desperate to sell their organs to the wealthy. The customers are from the US, Western Europe, the Arab Gulf states, Israel and other wealthy countries.

Everybody has 2 kidneys that filter the toxins out of the bloodstream. If a patient with failure in both kidneys will die quickly unless he/she is treated with a dialysis machine or get a transplant. The transplants prolongs the lives of the patients but patients who receive organs from living donors have better survival rates rather than those receiving from deceased donors.

Online Business

China has done it well by attracting sellers and buyers by using the web. The communist country has the world’s highest execution rate and the dead convicts supply healthy young organs at all time. The Chinese justice system works effective and quick for those who are sentenced to death and corrupt government workers take advantage of the situation to earn extra money.

Once patients arrive to China, the organizers will force them to bid more than the others so that a single organ will go for the highest price. They are forced to sit at the hospital and wait and watch who will get the organ from the executed prisoner.

Israel and shortage of donors

This globally black market is deceptive and dirty. The traffickers use deception, violence and coercion to buy and sell organs from desperate people and sell them for much higher price to more developed countries. These middlemen form partnership with doctors in different hospitals who perform these transplants for an arranged fee and no questions. The numbers from World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that 5000 people sell their organs on the black market each year. Many of the black marketed kidneys harvested by the rootless gangs are destined to patients in Israel.

With a population of 7,4 million and a very modern medical system, Israel has a alarming shortage of donors because of the religious belief. Only 12% of Israelis are registered as donors according to the Israeli National Transplant center. What’s positive is that the Israeli police has been very aggressive against organ traffickers and managed to break up 3 international gangs since 2008.

The criminals profits from the poor and the sick, both parts that try to survive. They will pay a seller $10,000 and collect $150,000 from the patient.  The buyers are flown to cities and hospitals to wait for the procedure until they find a recipient.

Unfortunately, there are corrupt doctors everywhere and it is impossible for them not to know about the transplants because of the money that is involved. How can they not know about whether the donor is a blood relative or not?  Not only the middlemen, but the doctors must also be held accountable together with everyone that is involved.

Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, from New York, admitted in a Trenton federal court to brokering three illegal kidney transplants for desperate New Jersey-based customers in exchange for payments of $120,000 or more. He also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy count for brokering an illegal kidney sale.

The religious debate

Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, a prominent and leading arbiter of Jewish law in Israel advises that donating body parts violates the religious faith, which states that “upon death, a body should be buried intact.” This has lead to a huge shortage of donors and the list of patients is growing. The result is that money hungry gangs prey on these desperate people.

Shmuel Eliyahu, chief Rabbi of Safed, Israel has started a project to get 100 colleagues to sign a document advocating organ donation. “The Torah tells people to help others when they can, especially if it means saving a life. Donating an organ is a mitzvah, or good deed, “he said.

Egypt

In this area, there is a network of Bedouin smugglers who steal organs from refugees who travel in the harsh desert in search for a better life in Israel. If they can’t pay for the large amount of money to their smugglers, they have to pay with their organs. Many African refugees have been found in the desert with their organs missing.

The most dangerous and cruel traffickers are the Sawarka Bedouin tribe who steal organs from refugees coming from Ethiopia, Eritrea or Sudan. If they can’t pay, the men lose their organs and the women are raped.

Al-Azazy, a human rights activist stated that the victims are drugged before the traffickers remove the organs as the organs aren’t useful when the victim is dead. After the surgery, the victim is dumped in a dry well where hundreds of other bodies rest. They all have one thing in common, and that is the deep scar they all carry. This heinous act is a shame and the corrupt Egyptian doctors are working together with the Bedouins and perform the surgery in mobile hospitals.

Countries involved

According to information from WHO, kidney transplants are carried out in 91 countries. Approximately, 66,000 kidney transplants, 21,000 liver transplants and 6000 heart transplants were performed globally in 2005.

Organ harvesting is going on at full speed in Philippines, Turkey, Iran, central Europe, mainly in the Czech Republic, Caucasus, mainly in Georgia, Pakistan, India, Africa; such as Mozambique and South Africa as one of the main countries.

The surgeons removes kidneys, lungs, pieces of liver, even corneas, bones, tendons, heart valves, skin and other sellable human bits. The organs are kept in cold storage and air lifted to illegal distribution centers in the United States, Germany, Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, Israel, South Africa, and other rich, industrialized locales. This barbaric business makes more money than human trafficking and drug trafficking.

The Middle East residents of the Gulf States (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman) have travelled to India, Philippines and to Eastern Europe for many years to purchase organs because of some Islamic teachings that allow organ transplantation to save life but prohibit organ harvesting from brain-dead bodies.

The Gurgaon kidney scandal

Police arrested several people for running a kidney transplant clinic in Gurgaon, Delhi. The kidneys came mostly from poor people from Uttar Pradesh and transplanted to clients in USA, UK, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Greece. Dr. Amit Kumar, who ran the clinic and the guesthouse, was arrested in Nepal on 7 February 2008 but not surprisingly, he denied having anything to do with the trafficking. Officials seized a bank draft worth Rs. 936,000 together with €145,000 and $18,900 in cash. He tried to bribe the Nepali police but was not successful.

The donors were lured to the clinic for job opportunities and then asked if they were willing to donate their kidney for the amount of Rs. 30,000. If they resisted, they would forcedly be dragged into the operation room.

I personally stand for saving lives but this type of harvesting should not happen in the 21st century. The way the eastern Europeans and Chinese perform the surgery reminds me of the death camps in Nazi Germany. There are many pictures on the internet showing dead naked bodies dumped over each other on the floors. All of them are opened up and emptied for organs. It’s disgusting and inhuman how a human life can be taken away so easily. As long as there is a shortage of donors, the business will continue flourishing. It is sad to think about all those who are chained to the bed waiting for a kidney, liver or heart but no one has the right to murder another human being for the sake of money.

“When I look in the mirror and see that scar, it’s a daily reminder of what I went through,” he says. “I feel this raw grievance inside.” Abdullin, 28 from Azerbaijan.

Sexual crimes against children in Indonesia

In Indonesia, raping case is  on the  2nd ranks the most common crime after the murder.

Rape comes from the Latin rapere , means to steal, force, seize or carry away. Rape is an attempt to vent his sexual lust by a man against women in a way that violates according to the moral and law. According to the Women’s Crisis Center (WCC), rape is any sexual assault or coercion. Form of rape is not always intercourse, but any form of attack or coercion involving the genitals. Oral sex, anal sex, destruction of the female genitals with an object also is rape, and rape also can occur in marriage.

Currently, common rape against women is rape against children. Based on data from the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas PA) in 2010 showed as many as 39.18 percent of 1649 cases of violence against children is sexual violence. Since 1993 there have been 1500 to 2000 cases of rape and in 2010 every 10 day recorded 33 cases of rape of children.

Based on  Article 1, paragraph 1 of the Law of the Republic of Indonesia No. 23 of 2002, children is someone who has not aged 18 (eighteen) years old, including children who are still in the womb.

Rape is usually done by a stranger to the child, but now it is very disappointing that  the rape was carried out by people who are well known to the victim (seductive rape), such as teachers, doctors, friends or the biological parent (father). Data showed that 68% of sexual violence against children, the perpetrators were their family

Ideally, a father is the leader in the family that responsible to provide protection, love and affection, a decent living, education and mental development of children so  the children has a personality that is established well and able to float ideas in a positive and focused way.

But not all fathers can carry out his duties properly, some of them destroy his daughter’s  life by raping on them (incest). Incest is a sexual intercourse or sexual relations that occur between two people that have bond,where the bond consanguinity between them is close enough, for example between the brothers with sisters, fathers with daughters, mothers with sons or uncles with nephews. In this case, sexual relations that occur there are a voluntary and there is coercion. That is coercion is called rape. Many people are known to rape incest, because this case is more frequently reported by victims or their families.

Sexual violence in this category is the hardest violence because the victim always  remember that the offender is a person in a family and near her own so that incest usually occurs over and over, and between the victim and the perpetrator most likely to meet each other.

Rape case  by a father that abusing his own daughter was a lot happening on  the middle class economy families, because the house that they have is very narrow, the conditions at home is only one room for a whole family members. So over time people who were there will inflame passions biological. Fathers that  spend more time at home because they do not have a job while his wife works outside home or abroad. Rape can also happens  due to environmental influences or background which affects living  way in the past, feel deprived or left behind of sexual experience when he was teen (sexual lag behind) as well as psychological shock due to spontaneous sexual stimulation and lack of understanding of religious values.

Most of the perpetrators  explained that they had raped their children because of sexual arousal (see parts of the body), a wife who can not serve their sexual needs, habits of children who sleep together with parents, horny after watching porn movie, unconscious, too fond of children, the influence from alcohol and social construction that is too strong (the way men judge women)

CASES EXAMPLE

We can see several examples of cases below:

1. Jakarta – April, 2002

A biological father raping 2 of his daughters since 1996 when they was aged 8 and 6 years old. The perpetrator complained  by his wife and he was imprisoned.

2. Bogor – April, 2002

A father raped his biological child until having a child. The perpetrator reported to the police  by the victim.

3. Surabaya – June, 2002

During the 3 years raping his own daughter. Perpetrators reported by the victim and his ex-wife who has been divorced for a long time.

4. Padang – August 19, 2005

HS (32 years old) raped her daughter for many times since  divorced with his wife and they used to sleep in one room.

5. West Sumatra – August 20, 2005

Not satisfied although already has two wives, a father raped his biological daughter (18 years old). Perpetrator  threatened the victim with a knife to obey his will. The perpetrator imprisoned.

6. Madiun – August 4, 2002

During the 3years while his mother worked abroad, Lel (14 years old) raped by her own father. It had happened for a long period  because the victim fear of the threat from her father. Perpetrator have been arrested and punished.

7. Malang – June 12,2008

M (44 years old), raping his daughter since she was  8 years old to 14 years old. The victim claimed that rape by her father since she was in 4th grade of secondary school. If counted, rape by her father is more than 10 times in a year. Rape is done because his wife works outside the country so no one fulfiil his  sexual needs. Perpetrator arrested after a complaint the victim and her boyfriend.

8. Nganjuk – April 21,2009

By the reason of drunkenness, Sutriyono (41) raped his biological child who was 15 years old. The child was raped beside her mother who was asleep. When the mother woke up and prohibit the perpetrator, he’s beating of his wife and banging her  into the wall. Both of them then reported this thing to the police and the perpetrator has been arrested and imprisoned.

9. Timor  – July 16,2009

IN (39 years old), three times raping his children. It was in October 12.2008, February 10.2009 and July 15.2009. The reason is that the father must raped her first daughter so can live happily if married later. Perpetrator reported by his wife, children and neighbors and have been detained by the police.

10. Labuhan Batu Selatan – January 20.2010

BN (42 years old), since 2007 has four times raping his daughter  who is now 15 years old. The victim told this to the neighbors and they reported it to the police. The perpetrator is imprisoned.

11. Padang – August 10.2010

AWE (48 years old), his child abuse began in 2005 because of seeing his beautiful daughter’s face. The perpetrator  was  reported by the victim to the police and was arrested.

12. Bangkalan – October 9.2010

MK (47 years old) had raped his daughter KLZ (16 years old)  for thirty times since she was in 3rd grade secondary school. The perpetrator reported by the victim and her mother to the police and  now is imprisoned.

13. Malang – October 22, 2010

BH (45 years old) raped his 16 years old daughter. He rape her when the condition of the house is quiet and his wife was ill. He have been detained by the police. BH crimes uncovered after his daughter  complained to her teacher at school so the school reported the incident to the police.

14. Purwokerto – November 23, 2010

KP (50 years old) raped his daughter MR (16 years old) until got pregnant for  5 months. The act was reported by the mother’s of victim and the neighbors as suspected her  physical changes. The perpetrator  who worked as a pedicab driver confessed that he had raped the victim from the beginning of 2009.

15. Jakarta – January 12, 2011

Puji  (40 years old) rape his daughter (B) from she was  in 4th grade of secondary school until now in junior high school and got pregnant for 1.5 months. The perpetrator  reported to the police by the neighbors after they saw  B have been pregnant.

16. Jakarta – February 5, 2011

MJ (40 years old) rape his  daughter MO (13 years old) in mid of January. Currently this case ready for trial.  Now  she moved into her relative’s house and not go to school anymore.

Rape action lasted for a long time because previously no one knows because the perpetrator is always tricky and threatened to kill the victim if the victim does not want to obey his will or try to report the rape to someone else.

Sexual crimes against children have been frequent in Indonesia, but  case like this is just like an iceberg phenomenon, to obtain estimates of the right or at least closer numbers to reality is very difficult because many cases unreported. Indonesian society still don’t have the courage to report these cases because it is still considered taboo in the family, they also think that these domestic issue is very privacy in a family.

RAPE IMPACT

1. Physical / Health Impact

Physical effects that can be experienced by victims are :

a. Damage to organs, such as the hymen, collapsed and died
b. Victims may be exposed to communicable diseases
c. Unwanted pregnancies

The possibility of pregnancy due to rape incest action if these people having child  will carry the homozygot gene. Some diseases can be inherited through a recessive homozygot gene which can cause death to the baby ie fatal anemia, impaired vision to children aged 4-7 years which could effect in blind, albino, polydactyl and so forth. A  genetic weakness and poor genetic history will grow dominant to the children.

Emotional disturbance experienced by the mother due to pregnancy affect fetal growth and development of pre-and post-birth. Moreover, many genetic diseases has a greater chance of emergence to the children that born from incest as a genetic disorder that causes mental health problems ( skizoprenia), mental retardation (idiot) and weak brain development.

2. Psychological Impact

Incest rape will make women living in a miserable life. Dependency and fear of the threat makes women can not resist being raped by her own father. It is very difficult for them to get out from it because they are highly dependent on the perpetrator  and still do not want to open a disgrace of  the man who basically they cared about and should be their protectors. As a result they are traumatized for life and psychiatric disorders.

The psychological impact suffered by victims are:

a. Disorders of sexual behavior

b. Severe Trauma / shock psychiatric (crying, isolate themselves, fear, self-blaming and suicide). This is commonly called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

c. Difficult to concentrate.

d. Can not trust other people.

e. Depression

Rape by someone who is known, the father, in psychologically it takes a longer time to recover because the victims have memory against the perpetrators of rape, so victims will experience a very long fear. Rape against children is also caused many of them unable to continue their study anymore because they are embarrassed by the circumstances, until eventually it caused the destruction of their future.

3. The impact in terms of humanitarian

Universal conscience of humanity (in general) that civilized until today condemned this act as a crime against the human values ​​that has sacrificed the moral feelings of the public.

4. Social Impact

In Indonesia, an incestuous relationship occurred in one family would cause the destruction of the family name in the public eye. Families can be ostracized by society and become the rumor the community. More important problem of child asylum cases of rape incest is that there is an unhealthy condition in a social context, relating to the social construction of the family. For example, people know the father and daughter as one family. But in case of incestuous rape cases, where the father impregnated her daughter, then when the child is born a child of the woman’s father then became a double status, father and grandfather.

ROLE OF THE STATE AND SOCIETY

Sexual crimes against children is a serious issue that should get priority attention from the State to immediately deal with it, because children who are victims have been humbled status and dignity, and will experience a long psychological trauma throughout her life. Role of the State becomes very important because the State has the obligation to preserve, protect and fulfill children’s rights.

Protection of children is all activities to ensure and protect children and their rights in order to live, grow, develop, and participate, in an optimal fit with the dignity of humanity, and get protection from violence and discrimination.
Perpetrators of rape against children in Indonesia can be arrested and subjected to punishment for violating the articles such as:

1. Article 81 paragraph 1 of Act No. 23 of 2002 on Child Protection

Any person who intentionally commit violence or threats of violence forced the children to do sexual intercourse with him or with another person, is punishable by a maximum imprisonment of 15 (fifteen) years and a minimum 3 (three) years and a fine of  Rp300,000,000.00 (three hundred million rupiahs) and at least Rp60,000,000.00 (sixty million rupiahs).

2. Article 46 of Law No. 23 Year 2004 on Domestic Violence

Any person committing acts of sexual violence as referred to in Article 8 letter (a) shall be punished with imprisonment of 12 (twelve) years or a fine of not more Rp36.000.000, 00 (thirty six million rupiahs).

A lot of reporting, arresting and a maximum punishment given to the perpetrators of  rape, but these crime is not reduced, even more to increase daily. If the perpetrators thinks that the punishment are not hard enough to make them refrain from doing such act, then cooperation with the community is require so this crime can be stopped, at least reduced in number.

Society as a social control including the school, the government, neighbors, friends and family should more caring and give attention to the situation that occurred in the vicinity. A little awareness that we have to consider other people will mean a lot to people who needs it. At least the perpetrators won’t be so brave committed rape if the people critical and look at the surrounding circumstances.  Needs courage from various parties, especially family, to be able to see this
proportional and siding with the victims to uncover case.

Also, it’s not enough only put this rape  problem against women as a moral issue, because this is also a problem of perspective and human reason; men’s  perspectives on women and women’s perspectives on men.

The perspectives should be changed, that a father is a man who should have the awareness to take care of  his family and its responsibilities as a leader in the family. A father does not just deserve to be respected, but also must appreciate his other family members. And women as wife and children, should be able to carry out its obligations properly, appreciate and cherish their family leader, appreciate and love themselves as individuals who have the same rights for life and able to resist and act decisively if their dignity as human beings have harassed and persecuted.

A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future – Unknown

Inbreeding – Cousin marriages and health disorders

It is estimated that at least 55% of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins and the tradition is also common among some other South Asian communities and in some Middle Eastern countries. But there is a problem: marrying someone who is themselves a close family member carries a risk for children, a risk that lies within the code of life, inside our genes. Communities that practice cousin marriage experience higher levels of some very rare but very serious illnesses known as recessive genetic disorders.

Such unions are seen as strong because they build on tight family networks and family events gets better because the in-laws are already related to each other and have the same family history. But the statistics for recessive genetic illness in cousin marriages is serious as British Pakistanis are 13 times more likely to have children with genetic disorders than the general population.

Cousin marriages

Cousin marriage is marriage between two cousins. This kind of marriage is highly stigmatized today in the West, but it does account for over 10% of marriages worldwide as it is common in the Middle East, where in some nations they account for over half of all marriages.

According to Professor Robin Fox of Rutgers University, it is likely that 80% of all marriages in history have been between second cousins or closer. It is generally accepted that the founding population of Homo sapiens was small, anywhere from 700 to 10,000 individuals. Rates of first-cousin marriage in the United States, Europe, and other Western countries like Brazil have declined since the 19th century, though even during that period they were not more than 3.63% of all unions in Europe. But in many other world regions cousin marriage is still strongly favoured: in the Middle East some countries have seen the rate rise over previous generations, and one study finds quite stable rates among Indian Muslims over the past four decades.

Cousin marriage has often been chosen to keep cultural values and ensure the compatibility of spouses, preserve familial wealth, sometimes via advantages relating to dowry or bride price. Other reasons may include geographic proximity, tradition, strengthening of family ties, maintenance of family structure, a closer relationship between the wife and her in-laws, greater marital stability and durability, ease of prenuptial negotiations, enhanced female autonomy, the desire to avoid hidden health problems and other undesirable traits in a lesser-known spouse, and romantic love.

United States

The United States has the only bans on cousin marriage in the Western world. As of February 2010[update], 30 U.S. states prohibit most or all marriage between first cousins together with other 6 states.

Cousin marriage was legal in all US states in the Union prior to the Civil War. However, according to Kansas sociology professor Martin Ottenheimer, after the Civil War the main purpose of marriage prohibitions was increasingly seen as less maintaining the social order and upholding religious morality and more as safeguarding the creation of fit offspring. By the 1870s, Lewis Henry Morgan was writing about “the advantages of marriages between unrelated persons” and the necessity of avoiding “the evils of consanguine marriage.” Cousin marriage to Morgan, and more specifically parallel-cousin marriage, was a remnant of a more primitive stage of human social organization. Morgan himself had married his mother’s brother’s daughter in 1851.

In 1846 the Governor of Massachusetts appointed a commission to study “idiots” in the state which implicated cousin marriage as being responsible for idiocy. Within the next two decades numerous reports appeared coming to similar conclusions, including for example by the Kentucky Deaf and Dumb Asylum, which concluded that cousin marriage resulted in deafness, blindness, and idiocy. Perhaps most important was the report of physician S.M. Bemiss for the American Medical Association, which concluded “that multiplication of the same blood by in-and-in marrying does incontestably lead in the aggregate to the physical and mental depravation of the offspring.”

These developments led to thirteen states and territories passing cousin marriage prohibitions by the 1880s. Though contemporaneous, the eugenics movement did not play much direct role in the bans, and indeed George Louis Arner in 1908 considered them a clumsy and ineffective method of eugenics, which he thought would eventually be replaced by more refined techniques. Ottenheimer considers both the bans and eugenics to be “one of several reactions to the fear that American society might degenerate.” In any case, by the period up until the mid-1920s the number of bans had more than doubled. Since that time, the only three states to successfully add this prohibition are Kentucky in 1943, Maine in 1985, and Texas in 2005. The NCCUSL unanimously recommended in 1970 that all such laws should be repealed, but no state has dropped its prohibition since the mid-1920s.

Europe

Only Austria, Hungary, and Spain banned cousin marriage throughout the 19th century, with dispensations being available from the government in the last two countries. Protestant, the Church of Sweden didn’t ban first-cousin marriage until 1680 and required dispensation until 1844. England maintained a small but stable proportion of cousin marriages for centuries, with proportions in 1875 estimated by George Darwin at 3.5% for the middle classes and 4.5 % for the nobility, though this has declined to under 1 % in the 20th century. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were a preeminent example.

The 19th century academic debate on cousin marriage evolved differently in Europe than it did in America. The first-cousin marriage was legal in ancient Rome from at least the Second Punic War (218–201 BC) to its ban by the Christian emperor Theodosius I in 381 AD in the west and until after Justinian (d. 565 AD) in the east.

Early Catholic marriage rules forced a sharp change from earlier norms in order to deny heirs to the wealthy and therefore increase the chance they would will their property to the Church.

Middle East

The Middle East has uniquely high rates of cousin marriage among the world’s regions. Saudi Arabia, have rates of marriage to first or second cousins that may exceed 50%, Iraq was estimated in one study to have a rate of 33%, and figures for Iran and Afghanistan have been estimated in the range of 30–40%. Though on the lower end, Egypt and Turkey nevertheless have rates above 20%.

All states in the Persian Gulf currently require advance genetic screening for all prospective married couples. Qatar was the last Gulf nation to institute mandatory screening in 2009, mainly to warn related couples who are planning marriage about any genetic risks they may face. The current rate of cousin marriage there is 54%, an increase of 12–18% over the previous generation. A report by the Dubai-based Centre for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS) in September 2009 found that Arabs have one of the world’s highest rates of genetic disorders, nearly two-thirds of which are linked to consanguinity. Research from CAGS and others suggests consanguinity is declining in Lebanon and Egypt and among Palestinians, but is increasing in Morocco, Mauritania and Sudan.

Dr. Ahmad Teebi, a genetics and pediatrics professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, links the increase in cousin marriage in Qatar and other Gulf states to tribal tradition and the region’s expanding economies. “Rich families tend to marry rich families, and from their own – and the rich like to protect their wealth,” he said. “So it’s partly economic, and it’s also partly cultural.” In regard to the higher rates of genetic disease in these societies, he says: “It’s certainly a problem,” but also that “The issue here is not the cousin marriage, the issue here is to avoid the disease.”

Africa

Cousin marriage rates from most African nations outside the Middle East are unknown. It is however estimated that 35–50% of all sub-Saharan African populations either prefers or accept cousin marriages. In Nigeria, the most populous country of Africa, the three largest tribes in order of size are the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo. Muslim Hausa practice cousin marriage preferentially, and polygamy is allowed if the husband can support multiple wives. Divorce can be accomplished easily by either the male or the female, but females must then remarry. Even for a man, lacking a spouse is looked down upon. Baba of Karo’s first of four marriages was to her second cousin. She recounts in the book that her good friend married the friend’s first cross cousin.

The Yoruba people are split between Islam and Christianity. A 1974 study analyzed Yoruba marriages in the town Oka Akoko, finding that among a sample of marriages having an average of about three wives. These included not only cousin marriages but also uncle-niece unions. Reportedly it is a custom that in such marriages at least one spouse must be a relative, and generally such spouses were the preferred or favourite wives in the marriage and gave birth to more children. Finally, the Igbo people of southern Nigeria specifically prohibit both parallel- and cross-cousin marriage, though polygamy is common. Men are forbidden to marry within their own patrilineage or those of their mother or father’s mother and must marry outside their own village. Igbo are almost entirely Christian, having converted heavily under colonialism

In Ethiopia the ruling Christian Amhara people were historically rigidly opposed to cousin marriage, and could consider up to third cousins the equivalent of brother and sister, with marriage at least ostensibly prohibited out to sixth cousins. A man marrying a former wife’s “sister” was seen as incest, and conversely for a woman and her former husband’s “brother.” Though Muslims make up over a third of the Ethiopian population, and Islam has been present in the country since the time of Muhammad, cross-cousin marriage is very rare among most Ethiopian Muslims.

South Asia

Attitudes in India on cousin marriage vary by region and culture. For Muslims it is acceptable and legal to marry a first cousin but for Hindus it may be illegal under the 1955 Hindu Marriage Act, though the specific situation is more complex. The Hindu Marriage Act makes cousin marriage illegal for Hindus with the exception of marriages permitted by regional custom. Cousin marriage is proscribed and seen as incest for Hindus in north India. In fact it may even be unacceptable to marry within one’s village or for two siblings to marry partners from the same village but in south India it is common for Hindu’s to marry cross cousins, with matrilateral cross-cousin (mother’s brother’s daughter) marriages being especially favoured. In Mumbai, studies done in 1956 showed 7.7% of Hindus married to a second cousin or closer in contrast to the northern city of New Delhi where only 0.1% of Hindus were married to a first cousin during the 1980s.

India’s Muslim minority represents about 12% of its population (excluding Jammu and Kashmir) and has an overall rate of cousin marriage of 22% according to a 2000 report. Most Muslim cousin marriages were between first cousins with a rate of 20%.

United Kingdom

There has been a great deal of debate in the past few years in the United Kingdom about whether to discourage cousin marriages through government public relations campaigns or ban them entirely. The debate has been prompted by a Pakistani immigrant population making up 1.5% of the British population, of whom about 55% marry a first cousin. There is evidence that the rate of cousin marriage has increased among British Pakistanis from rates in their parents’ generation. Most British Pakistani marriages are arranged, but these can be of two types: conventionally arranged marriages where the bride and groom have little or no say, and what some British Pakistanis describe as “arranged love marriages” where the bride and groom play an important role.

Other regions

In the East, South Korea is especially restrictive with bans on marriage out to third cousins, with all couples having the same surname and region of origin having been prohibited from marrying until 1997. Taiwan, North Korea, and the Philippines also prohibit first-cousin marriage. It is allowed in Japan, though the incidence has declined in recent years. China has banned it since passing its 1981 Marriage Law, yet there is a conspicuous lack of data on actual cousin marriage rates there.

Recent 2001 data for Brazil indicates a rate of cousin marriage of 1.1%, down from 4.8% in 1957. For example, in São Paulo in the mid-19th century the rate of cousin marriage apparently was 16%, but a century later it was merely 1.9%.

Social aspects of cousin marriages

People may think that cousin marriages are more common among those of low socioeconomic status, among the illiterate and uneducated, and in rural areas due to the dowries and bridewealths that exist, but some societies also report a high prevalence among land-owning families and the ruling elite: here the relevant consideration is thought to be keeping the family estate intact over generations.

In South Asia, rising demands for dowry payments have caused economic hardship and have been linked to “dowry deaths” in a number of North Indian states. The increasing number of cousin marriages in the West may also occur as a result of immigration from Asia and Africa and some observers have concluded that the only new forces that could discourage such unions are government bans like the one China enacted in 1981.

Genetics

In April 2002, the Journal of Genetic Counseling released a report which estimated the average risk of birth defects in a child born of first cousins at 1.7–2.8% over an average base risk for non-cousin couples of 3%, or about the same as that of any woman over age 40. In terms of mortality, a 1994 study found a mean excess pre-reproductive mortality rate of 4.4%, while another study published in 2009 suggests the rate may be closer to 3.5%. Put differently, first-cousin marriage entails a similar increased risk of birth defects and mortality as a woman faces when she gives birth at age 41 rather than at 30. Critics argue that banning first-cousin marriages would make as much sense as trying to ban childbearing by older women.

In Pakistan, where there has been cousin marriage for generations and the current rate may exceed 50%, one study estimated infant mortality at 12.7 % for married double first cousins, 7.9 % for first cousins, 9.2 % for first cousins once removed/double second cousins, 6.9 % for second cousins, and 5.1 percent among nonconsanguineous progeny. Among double first cousin progeny, 41.2 % of prereproductive deaths were associated with the expression of detrimental recessive genes, with equivalent values of 26.0, 14.9, and 8.1 % for first cousins, first cousins once removed/double second cousins, and second cousins respectively.

For example because the entire Amish population is descended from only a few hundred 18th century German-Swiss settlers, the average coefficient of inbreeding between two random Amish is higher than between two non-Amish second cousins. First-cousin marriage is taboo among Amish but they still suffer from several rare genetic disorders. In Ohio’s Geagua County, Amish make up only about 10 % of the population but represent half the special needs cases. Similar disorders have been found in the highly polygamous FLDS, who do allow first-cousin marriage and of whom 75 to 80 % are related to two 1930s founders.

A BBC report reported about Pakistanis in Britain where 55% of whom had married a first cousin and many children come from repeat generations of first-cousin marriages. The report stated that these children were 13 times more likely than the general population to produce children with genetic disorders, and one in ten children of first-cousin marriages in Birmingham either died in infancy or would develop a serious disability. The BBC story contained an interview with Myra Ali, whose parents and grandparents were all first cousins. She has a very rare recessive genetic condition, known as Epidermolysis bullosa which will cause her to lead a life of extreme physical suffering, limited human contact and probably an early death from skin cancer. Knowing that cousin marriages increase the probability of recessive genetic conditions, she is against the practice. Finally, in 2010 the Telegraph reported that cousin marriage among the British Pakistani community resulted in 700 children being born every year with genetic disabilities.

The increased mortality and birth defects observed among British Pakistanis may, however, have another source besides current consanguinity. Genetic effects from cousin marriage in Britain are more obvious than in a developing country like Pakistan because the number of confounding environmental diseases is lower. Increased focus on genetic disease in developing countries may eventually result from progress in eliminating environmental diseases there as well.

Public Health in Norway published in March 2007 a research on intermarriage in Norway. The report identifies both the prevalence of intermarriage and the medical consequences for the children. The analysis was done on the basis of data from the Medical Birth Registry, Statistics Norway, Population Register and the Cause of Death Register of data for all persons born in Norway from 1967 to 2005 because Norway is the only country in the world that keeps the statistic numbers between the parents of all born babies. These were the key findings:

Prevalence of intermarriage:

  • In Norway, the most widespread intermarriage can be found among people of Pakistani origin. In first-generation immigrants from Pakistan intermarriage is 43.9% of all children born of parents who are cousins, and the total intermarriage ratio is 54.4%.
  • Among the descendants of first generation immigrants from Pakistan, the proportion of cousin pairs 35.1%, and the total intermarriage ratio 46.5%. Interbreeding units are therefore somewhat lower than in the parental generation.
  • Intermarriage-shares seem to be heading down in the Norwegian-Pakistani population, both first generation immigrants and descendants.
  • Intermarriage is relatively common also among people with origins from Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Somalia.
  • For people of Norwegian origin, intermarriage is very rare, but it used to be more common a few decades back. This particularly applies to second cousin marriages. In those of Norwegian origin is 0.1% of parental pairs cousins ​​and second cousins ​​0.4% (in the period from 1967 to 2005).

Medical risks of intermarriage
Intermarriage leads to increased risk of stillbirth, infant death and congenital malformations. In addition, there is an increased risk of death right up to adulthood among children of intermarried parents.
For children of cousin marriage is the increase of risk in the following order:

  • Stillbirth: 60%
  • Deaths during the first year: 150%
  • Congenital malformations: 100%
  • Deaths from the age of one year and up to adulthood: 75%

These findings are statistically reliable, and not the result of random variation.

The significance of intermarriage for public health
Since intermarriage is rare in the population as a whole, intermarriage does little for public health in Norway, however, it is a major cause of illness and death among children in the country groups where intermarriage is common.
One must always bear in mind that most children of intermarriage, marriage is healthy and completely normal. Illness and death affects only a small minority of them.

Jewish communities affected by Tay-Sachs

Tay–Sachs disease (TSD, also known as GM2 gangliosidosis or Hexosaminidase A deficiency) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder. In its most common variant, known as infantile Tay–Sachs disease, it causes a relentless deterioration of mental and physical abilities that commences around 6 months of age and usually results in death by the age of 4. Tay-Sachs is caused by a genetic defect in a single gene with one defective copy of that gene inherited from each parent. The disease occurs when harmful quantities of gangliosides accumulate in the nerve cells of the brain, eventually leading to the premature death of those cells. There is currently no cure or treatment but the Tay–Sachs disease is rare.

Tay-Sachs disease was named after British ophthalmologist Warren Tay, who first described the red spot on the retina of the eye in 1881, and the American neurologist Bernard Sachs of Mount Sinai Hospital, New York who described the cellular changes of Tay-Sachs and noted an increased prevalence in the Eastern European Jewish (Ashkenazi) population in 1887. Research in the late 20th century demonstrated that Tay–Sachs disease is caused by a genetic mutation on the HEXA gene on chromosome 15. These mutations reach significant frequencies in several populations. French Canadians of southeastern Quebec have a carrier frequency similar to Ashkenazi Jews, but they carry a different mutation. Many Cajuns of southern Louisiana carry the same mutation that is most common in Ashkenazi Jews. Most HEXA mutations are rare, and do not occur in genetically isolated populations. The disease can potentially occur from the inheritance of two unrelated mutations in the HEXA gene.

Millions of Ashkenazi Jews have been screened as Tay-Sachs carriers since carrier testing began in 1971. Jewish communities, both in and outside of Israel, embraced the cause of genetic screening from the 1970s on and the increasing number of Tay–Sachs disease led Israel to become the first country to offer free genetic screening and counseling for all couples making Israel a leading center for research on genetic disease. Both the Jewish and Arab/Palestinian populations in Israel contain many ethnic and religious minority groups, and Israel’s initial success with Tay–Sachs disease has led to the development of screening programs for other diseases.

Tay-Sachs has sometimes created an impression that Jews are more susceptible to genetic disease than other populations. Sheila Rothman and Sherry Brandt-Rauf, of Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Society and Medicine, have criticized this emphasis on ethnic identity in the study of disease. When several breast cancer mutations were discovered in the 1990s, the TSD model was applied, both consciously and inadvertently. Researchers had initially focused on breast cancer cluster families, not on ethnic groups. But because thousands of stored DNA samples were available from Tay-Sachs screening, researchers were quickly able to estimate the frequency of newly discovered mutations in Ashkenazi Jewish populations.

Inbreeding in the Royal and Nobel families

The family relationships of royalty are usually well known to be highly inbreeded. Royal intermarriage was mostly practised to protect property, wealth, and position.

  • In ancient Egypt, royal women carried the bloodlines and so it was advantageous for a pharaoh to marry his sister or half-sister. Normally the old ruler’s eldest son and daughter (who could be either siblings or half-siblings) became the new rulers. All rulers of the Ptolemaic dynasty from Ptolemy II were married to their brothers and sisters, to keep the Ptolemaic blood “pure” and to strengthen the line of succession. Cleopatra VII (also called Cleopatra VI) and Ptolemy XIII, who married and became co-rulers of ancient Egypt following their father’s death, are the most widely known example of brother and sister marriage.

The family-tree of Charles II of Spain shows an extraordinary number of uncle-niece and cousin unions of varying degrees that can be seen on the picture.

Click at the picture for a larger image

  • Among European monarchies Jean V of Armagnac formed a rare brother-sister relationship. Also other royal houses, such as the Wittelsbachs had marriages among aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. The British royal family had several marriages as close as the first cousin, but none closer.
  • The most famous example of a genetic disorder aggravated by royal family intermarriage was the House of Habsburg, which inmarried particularly often. Famous in this case is the Habsburg jaw/Habsburg lip/Austrian lip typical for many Habsburg relatives over a period of 6 centuries. The condition progressed through the generations to the point that the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, Charles II of Spain, could not properly chew his food.
  • Besides the jaw deformity, Charles II also had a huge number of other genetic physical, intellectual, sexual, and emotional problems. It is speculated that the simultaneous occurrence in Charles II of two different genetic disorders: combined pituitary hormone deficiency and distal renal tubular acidosis could explain most of the complex clinical profile of this king, including his impotence/infertility which in the last instance led to the extinction of the dynasty.
  • The most famous genetic disease that circulated among European royalty was haemophilia. Because the progenitor, Queen Victoria, was in a first cousin marriage, it is often mistakenly believed that the cause was consanguinity, however, this disease is generally not aggravated by cousin marriages, although rare cases of haemophilia in girls (though not including Victoria) are thought to result from the union of haemophilic men and their cousins.
  • Intermarriage within European royal families has declined in relation to the past. Inter-nobility marriage was used as a method of forming political alliances among elite power-brokers and these ties were often sealed only upon the birth of progeny within the arranged marriage. Marriage was seen as a union of lines of nobility, not of a contract between individuals as it is seen today.
  • Some Peruvian Sapa Incas married their sisters. The Inca had an unwritten rule that the new ruler must be a son of the Inca and his wife and sister. He then had to marry his sister (not half-sister), which ultimately led to the catastrophic Huáscar’s reign, culminating in a civil war and then fall of the empire.

Queen Victoria

Royal dyslexia
When we look at the Norwegian history, marriage between cousins was rare and attempted to be prohibited in 1687 but the exception was the royals. They married relatives to build alliances, and ensure values ​​and positions. It is not different from the today’s cousin marriages except the only difference was that the royal house had a stronger fundamental superstructure that was at the family’s superiority. Monarchical thinking assumes that your place in society is God-given and that your family is predetermined.

King Olav V and Queen Maud of Norway
To keep the heritage in their own hands, the Spanish Habsburgs started to marry more and more within the family. The result was that the lethal inbreeding within a few generations brought the male succession to destruction with 11 royal marriages in 200 years. 9 of these were intermarriages including two marriages between uncles and nieces and four between cousins. As a consequence of this, the Habsburgs suffered stillbirths and deaths of babies. Between 1527 and 1661 there was born 34 children and of these, 10 died before the age of 1 year. Another 17 died before the age of 10.

The Habsburgs last king, Carlos II, was born in 1661 and the Spaniards called him El hechizado, the enchanted. He had a large head and was relatively weak as a baby. He did not learn to speak before he turned four, and learned to walk when he was eight years old and stayed weak and very thin. His first and second wife claimed he was impotent and he would vomit and suffer from diarrhea. As a 30-year-old, King Carlos looked like he was an old man. He also couldn’t manage to bring an heir so the Halsburg Dynasty died with him in 1700.
Scientists have calculated that 25.4% of his gene variants were inherited in double dose and they believe he was hit by two genetic diseases that today are known as CPHD and distal renal tubular acidos (dRTA).

The Danish royal house was struggling with similar problems. Early in the 1800s did not King. Several diseases spread in the European royal houses of the 1800s and the British Queen Victoria’s descendants were affected by haemophilia resulting in her son Leopold death of the disease as 30-year-old. Her daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Alice brought the disease to the European royal houses.

Porphyria is another “royal disease” and the British king George III (1760 to 1820) was known as “Mad George” for his madness. Two professors of molecular genetics, Martin Warren and David Hunt of the University of London, examined in the book Purple Secret (1998) a thesis that George III’s illness was porphyria. They followed “Mad George” s genes down to today’s royals, and estimated that the Queen’s cousin William, who died in 1972, suffered from the disease. Also porphyria was brought further into the European royal families.
Norwegian Princess Astrid has been open to and told how she has experienced it to be dyslexic, like King Olaf was and the Princess’ five children also struggling with this problem.
In contrast, Swedish King Carl Gustaf, the Crown Princess Victoria and her brother Prince Carl Philip has been open with the disorder.

Swedish royal family

Camilla Stoltenberg of Public Health in Norway explains:
“If you inherit the gene from one parent, you may get a slight degree of the condition. Inherit it from both mother and father, the stronger the disposition, and then you can get a more serious disorder.” What then is the relationship between intermarriage and dyslexia?
“The chance that you get two identical copies of a gene is higher. This is also true for genes that predispose to dyslexia. And since dyslexia is probably conditioned by many genes, it is also a greater chance that you may have received two copies of several of the dysleksidisponerende genes,” she says.

International World Tuberculosis Day, 24th March

24th March every year is the World Tuberculosis day designed to spread awareness about the global epidemic of tuberculosis and efforts to eliminate the disease. Today, this disease causes the deaths of about 1,6 million people each year, mostly in the third world.

The reason that it is on 24th March is because the day commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB Bacillus. By the time of the announcement in Berlin, Europe and Americas was already being raged by the TB-virus causing the death of every one out of seven people.

In 1982, on the 100th anniversary of Robert Koch’s presentation, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) proposed that March 24th would be proclaimed as an official World TB Day.

Signs and symptoms

Click at the picture for a larger image

When the disease becomes active in the human body, 75% of the cases are pulmonary TB, that is, TB in the lungs. The symptoms include; chest pain, coughing up blood, and a productive, prolonged cough for more than three weeks. Systemic symptoms include fever, chills, night sweats, appetite loss, weight loss, pallor, and fatigue. Tuberculosis also has a specific odour attached to it; this has led to trained animals being used to vet samples as a method of early detection.

In the other 25% of active cases, the infection moves from the lungs, causing other kinds of TB, collectively denoted extra pulmonary tuberculosis. This occurs more commonly in immunosuppressed persons and young children. Extra pulmonary infection sites include the pleura in tuberculosis pleurisy, the central nervous system in meningitis, the lymphatic system in scrofula of the neck, the genitourinary system in urogenital tuberculosis, and bones and joints in Pott’s disease of the spine.

Causes

The cause of TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), is a small aerobic non-motile bacillus. High lipid content of this pathogen accounts for many of its unique clinical characteristics. It divides every 16 to 20 hours, an extremely slow rate compared with other bacteria, which usually divide in less than an hour.

Epidemiology

Click at the picture for a larger image

A third of the world’s population has been infected with M. tuberculosis, and new infections occur at a rate of one per second. However, not all infections with M. tuberculosis cause TB disease and many infections are asymptomatic. In 2007, an estimated 13.7 million people had active TB disease, with 9.3 million new cases and 1.8 million deaths; the annual incidence rate varied from 363 per 100,000 in Africa to 32 per 100,000 in the Americas. Tuberculosis is the world’s greatest infectious killer of women of reproductive age and the leading cause of death among people with HIV/AIDS.

In 2007, the country with the highest estimated incidence rate of TB was Swaziland, with 1200 cases per 100,000 people. India had the largest total incidence, with an estimated 2.0 million new cases. The Philippines ranks fourth in the world for the number of cases of tuberculosis and has the highest number of cases per head in Southeast Asia. Almost two thirds of Filipinos have tuberculosis, and up to an additional five million people are infected yearly. In developed countries, tuberculosis is less common and is mainly an urban disease. In the United Kingdom, the national average was 15 per 100,000 in 2007, and the highest incidence rates in Western Europe were 30 per 100,000 in Portugal and Spain. These rates compared with 98 per 100,000 in China and 48 per 100,000 in Brazil. In the United States, the overall tuberculosis case rate was 4 per 100,000 persons in 2007. In Canada tuberculosis is still endemic in some rural areas. The incidence of TB varies with age. In Africa, TB primarily affects adolescents and young adults, however, in countries where TB has gone from high to low incidence, such as the United States, it is mainly a disease of elder people, or of the immunocopromised.

What are the main causes of TB?

There are a number of known factors that make people more susceptible to TB infection such as HIV. Co-infection with HIV is a particular problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, due to the high incidence of HIV in these countries. Smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day also increases the risk of TB by two to four times. Diabetes mellitus is also an important risk factor that is growing in importance in developing countries. Other disease states that increase the risk of developing tuberculosis are Hodgkin lymphoma, end-stage renal disease, chronic lung disease, malnutrition, and alcoholism.

Diet may also modulate risk. For example, among immigrants in London from the Indian subcontinent, vegetarian Hindu Asians were found to have an 8.5 fold increased risk of tuberculosis, compared to Muslims who ate meat and fish daily. Although a causal link is not proved by this data, this increased risk could be caused by micronutrient deficiencies: possibly iron, vitamin B12 or vitamin D. Further studies have provided more evidence of a link between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of contracting tuberculosis. Globally, the severe malnutrition common in parts of the developing world causes a large increase in the risk of developing active tuberculosis, due to its damaging effects on the immune system. Along with overcrowding, poor nutrition may contribute to the strong link observed between tuberculosis and poverty.

Prisoners, especially in poor countries, are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and TB. Prisons provide conditions that allow TB to spread rapidly, due to overcrowding, poor nutrition and a lack of health services. Since the early 1990s, TB outbreaks have been reported in prisons in many countries in Eastern Europe. The prevalence of TB in prisons is much higher than among the general population, in some countries as much as 40 times higher.

Robert Koch

Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch (11 December 1843 – 27 May 1910) was a Prussian physician. He became famous for isolating Bacillus anthracis (1877), the Tuberculosis bacillus (1882) and the Vibrio cholerae (1883) and for his development of Koch’s postulates. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his tuberculosis findings in 1905 and considered one of the founders of microbiology,

Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch was born in Clausthal, Prussia one of the German states as the son of a mining official. He studied medicine under Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle at the University of Göttingen and graduated in 1866. He then served in the Franco-Prussian War and later became district medical officer, Wollstein (Wolsztyn), Prussian Poland. Working with very limited resources, he became one of the founders of bacteriology, the other major figure being Louis Pasteur. After Casimir Davaine showed the direct transmission of the anthrax bacillus between cows, Koch studied anthrax more closely. He invented methods to purify the bacillus from blood samples and grow pure cultures. He found that, while it could not survive outside a host for long, anthrax built persisting endospores that could last a long time. These endospores, embedded in soil, were the cause of unexplained “spontaneous” outbreaks of anthrax. Koch published his findings in 1876, and was rewarded with a job at the Imperial Health Office in Berlin in 1880. In 1881, he urged the sterilization of surgical instruments using heat.

In Berlin, he improved the methods he used in Wollstein, including staining and purification techniques, and bacterial growth media, including agar plates (thanks to the advice of Angelina and Walther Hesse) and the Petri dish, named after its inventor, his assistant Julius Richard Petri and these devices are still used today. With these techniques, he was able to discover the bacterium causing tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) in 1882 (he announced the discovery on 24 March). Tuberculosis was the cause of one in seven deaths in the mid-19th century.

In 1885, he became professor of hygiene at the University of Berlin, then in 1891 he was made Honorary Professor of the medical faculty and Director of the new Prussian Institute for Infectious Diseases (eventually renamed as the Robert Koch Institute), a position from which he resigned in 1904. He started traveling around the world, studying diseases in South Africa, India, and Java. He visited what is now called the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Mukteshwar on request of the then Government of India to investigate on cattle plague. The microscope used by him during that period was kept in the museum maintained by IVRI. Probably as important as his work on tuberculosis, for which he was awarded a Nobel Prize (1905), are Koch’s postulates, which say that to establish that an organism is the cause of a disease, it must be:

  • found in all cases of the disease examined
  • prepared and maintained in a pure culture
  • capable of producing the original infection, even after several generations in culture
  • Retrievable from an inoculated animal and cultured again.

Koch’s pupils found the organisms responsible for diphtheria, typhoid, pneumonia, gonorrhoea, cerebrospinal meningitis, leprosy, bubonic plague, tetanus, and syphilis, among others, by using his methods.

Robert Koch died on 27 May 1910 from a heart-attack in Baden-Baden, aged 66.

Source info; Wikipedia

Yoga and Its Benefits – Traditional art form of Indian physiotherapy

The most important benefit of yoga is physical and mental therapy. The aging process, which is largely an artificial condition, caused mainly by autointoxication or self-poisoning, can be slowed down by practicing yoga. By keeping the body clean, flexible and well lubricated, we can significantly reduce the catabolic process of cell deterioration. To get the maximum benefits of yoga one has to combine the practices of yogasanas, pranayama and meditation.

Physiological Benefits
Physicians and scientists are discovering brand new health benefits of yoga everyday. Studies show it can relieve the symptoms of several common and potentially life-threatening illnesses such as arthritis, arteriosclerosis, chronic fatigue, diabetes, AIDS, asthma and obesity.

Psychological Benefits
Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body awareness, relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind,
centres attention and sharpens concentration.

Spiritual Benefits
When you achieve the yogic spirit, you can begin knowing yourself at peace. The value of discovering one`s self and of enjoying one`s self as is, begins a journey into being rather than doing. Life can then be lived practicing “yoga off the mat”.

Types of Yogasanas:

We should begin with basic yoga postures of the gentle surya namaskar before adding more postures to our yoga routines. With expertise comes confidence. Postures from the primary series should be gradually slotted into our yoga routines. If all goes well and you don`t tear a tendon, hinges don`t lock and so on, then the third week might be generous enough to allow you to begin practising sitting postures. A few words of caution: don`t gallop, you could end up unseated and kissing the turf. The slower the learning process, the more the chances of learning the tricks of the trade. And most importantly, never practise without a teacher.

Surya Namaskar,

or Salutation to the Sun, is a sequence of 12 asanas, to draw in peace, harmony and strength in the body. Surya Namaskar accords overall strength and flexibility to the body, which is why it is generally performed before other asanas. The simple exercises fight aging and rejuvenate the entire body.

TADASANA
Tada‘ means a mountain and sama upright, unmoved. ‘Sthiti‘ means standing still. ‘Tadasana‘, therefore, implies a pose where you stand firm and erect like a mountain. ‘Tada‘ also means a palm tree growing straight. This is the basic standing pose.  Tadasana is useful for an alert body and mind. It induces lightness and agility. If practiced as in the picture here, it also relieves stiffness in shoulders and back and tones ankles and knees.

UTTHITA TRIKONASANA
Utthita‘ means extended and ‘trikon‘ is a triangle. The asana tones the leg muscles and removes stiffness in legs and hips. It relieves backaches and neck sprains and straightens the ankles and neck.

VIRASANA CYCLE
Vira‘ means a warrior. The asana resembles a warrior in sitting position.

SALAMBA SIRSASANA
In Salamba Sirsasana, the head supports the whole body.
The asana enhances blood supply to the brain. It gradually activates the endocrine glands. Regular practice increases intellectual clarity, improves will power, respiration and digestion. Minor ailments such as common cold, cough and sore throat can be cured.

SALAMBA SARVANGASANA

As the entire body benefits from this pose, this asana is generally known as Sarvangasana. In the classical pose, the hands support the back. This is called Salamba Sarvangasana. This asana develops patience and emotional stability. It is particularly beneficial and soothing for the nervous system.
It helps relieve ailments of the chest such as bronchitis, asthma, and breathlessness. It also helps decrease anemic conditions. It helps better digestion and hastens recuperation from any long illness.

USTRASANA

Ustra‘ means a camel. As the name suggests, this asana is so called because the pose resembles a camel. People with drooping shoulders and hunched backs specially benefit, since the whole spine is stretched back. This pose is useful for elderly people and those suffering from spinal injuries.

URDHVA MUKHA SVANASANAUrdhva Mukha‘ means facing upwards. ‘Svana‘ means a dog. The pose resembles a dog stretching itself with its head up. This asana rejuvenates the spine and is specially recommended for people suffering from a stiff back. It is also good for people with lumbago, sciatica, slipped and prolapsed discs. The lungs gain elasticity due to chest expansion. Blood circulates in the pelvic region, keeping it healthy.

HALASANA

Hala means plough. This posture is generally performed after Sarvangasana and therefore is often considered its extension. This pose is beneficial for headaches and fatigue. It is good for arthritis and stiffness of the shoulders. It soothes the nerves. Abdominal organs are also rejuvenated. It helps relieve backache. Cramps in the hands are cured by interlocking and stretching palms and fingers.

SAVASANA

Sava means a corpse. Savasana is thus the posture of emulating the dead. Though this apparently simple posture is the most difficult to master, it is also the most rewarding and refreshing. Savasana is a precise method of disciplining both body and mind. It connects asana and pranayama and leads one to the spiritual path.

Surrogacy – Womb for rent

What is surrogacy

Many couples consider children as a very important part of their life and for those who have difficulty conceiving one can be a hard obstacle to tackle. Some couples do whatever they can such as various treatments, acupuncture, medicine treatment and IVF treatments while others feels that the pressure becomes too hard and they separate. Infertility primarily refers to the biological inability of a person to contribute to conception. Infertility may also refer to the state of a woman who is unable to carry a pregnancy to full term. There are many biological causes of infertility, some which may be bypassed with medical intervention.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside the body, in vitro. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium. The fertilized egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient’s uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy. Robert G. Edwards, the doctor who developed the treatment, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010.

Some people decide to take the step to adopt a child but the negative aspects of this are that most adoptions take very long time. It’s a paradox if we think of the number of orphan children around the world and that those who apply for adoption have to wait for many years in line before they can add a new family member to their household. Therefore lately there is a rising use of surrogate mothers around the world. Surrogacy was first heard mostly in the media where Hollywood actors and actresses used but now, common people tend to use this method.

Surrogacy can be defined as an arrangement where a woman carries and delivers a baby for another person or a couple. This woman may be the genetic mother of this child (traditional surrogacy) or she may carry the pregnancy to deliver after having an embryo which she has no genetic relationship to (gestational surrogacy). If the pregnant woman receives compensation for carrying and delivering the baby besides medical and other expenses, it is called commercial surrogacy; otherwise the arrangement is called altruistic surrogacy.

The social parents, those that intend to raise the child arrange a surrogate pregnancy because of female infertility, or other medical issues which may make the pregnancy or delivery impossible, risky or otherwise undesirable. The social mother could also be fertile and healthy, and prefer the convenience of someone else undergoing pregnancy, labor, and delivery for her. The intended parent could also be a single man or woman wishing to have his/her own biological child and the legality of surrogacy arrangements vary widely between jurisdictions.

Usually, though, the etiquette is that the biological parents will provide the surrogate mother with any necessities the surrogate needs in the pregnancy such as providing transportation to and from doctor’s appointments; covering the costs of doctor visits, medications, procedures, hospital stay, and delivery fees (emergency and nonemergency) if medical insurance is not available by the surrogate; providing maternal clothing for the surrogate; if the surrogate was working before but quit to do the surrogacy, the biological parents will cover life necessities such as food, bills and etc.

INDIA: New regulation for India’s booming surrogate mother industry

Until recently, the 350 clinics offering surrogate mother services to the hundreds of medical tourists coming to India every week have been unregulated. But legal cases in India and other countries mean that this profitable free-for-all will be replaced by regulated agencies being forced to comply with national and international law. That may soon change. A draft bill to direct assisted reproductive technology (ART) is likely to be introduced this year in Parliament. India’s Supreme Court has demanded urgent new legislation to regulate one of India’s fastest-growing industries as they have become the world capital of outsourced pregnancies, where surrogates are implanted with foreign embryos and paid to carry the resultant babies to term. In 2002, the country legalized commercial surrogacy in an effort to promote medical tourism and Indian surrogate mothers are considered as available and cheap. In 2002 the country legalized commercial surrogacy in an effort to promote medical tourism; a sector the Confederation of Indian Industry predicts will generate $2.3 billion annually by 2012.

Many of the couples using India are from countries where surrogacy is either illegal or unaffordable. Surrogacy costs $12,000 to $20,000 per birth in India, compared to $70,000 to $100,000 in the USA. Indian surrogates are usually paid between 5,000 to $ 7,000 for their services, which is more than many of them would be able to earn after years of work. In some Indian clinics surrogates are recruited from rural villages, with most recruits being poor and illiterate. Surrogacy recruits are also brought to the clinics where they are required to stay in the clinic’s living quarters in a guarded dormitory-like setting for the entire pregnancy where they are being taking care of in case of complications.

There have been several cases in which babies born from Indian surrogacy arrangements were stateless, in which neither India nor the parents’ home countries recognized the babies’ citizenship. “We can only wish them good luck,” India’s Supreme Court told local media. Japan considers the woman who gives birth to a baby, the surrogate, to be the baby’s mother just like Norway does. Until recently, two-year-old twin toddlers were stateless and stranded in India. Their parents are German nationals, but the woman to whom the babies were born is an Indian surrogate. The boys were refused German passports because the country does not recognize surrogacy as a legitimate means of parenthood. And India does not confer citizenship on surrogate-born children conceived by foreigners. Only after a long legal battle did Germany allow the boys German passports.

The new proposed government bill bans in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics from brokering surrogacy transactions. It also calls for the establishment of an ART bank that will be responsible for locating surrogate mothers, as well as reproductive donors and fertility clinics will only come into contact with surrogates on the operating table but clinics see this as unworkable as they want to perform medical and background checks. But the new rules seek to protect surrogate mothers with freedom in negotiating their fee and mandatory health insurance from the couple or single employing them. The legislation will only allow a woman to act as a surrogate up to five times, less if she has her own children, and will impose a 35-year age limit. At the same time, the new legislation will also require and make sure that the international couple’s home country guarantees the unborn infant citizenship before a surrogacy can begin. If this stipulation becomes law it could kill the industry as few countries will or legally could guarantee citizenship before birth. Countries accepting surrogate-born children typically rely on DNA tests done post-delivery to determine the parentage of the baby.

How will the legislation affect Indian clinics?

Dr. Patel chooses among the women who appear at the clinic, at least three a day, hoping to hire out their wombs and she pairs the surrogates with infertile couples, catering to an increasingly international clientele from 13 foreign couples in 2006 to 85 in 2009. The entire process costs customers around $23,000 less than 1/5 of the going rate in the U.S. of which the surrogate mother usually receives about $7,500 in installments. Dr. Patel implants the women with embryos, using specimens from sperm or egg donors if necessary. Once pregnant, the surrogates are housed onsite, in a dormitory that was once a local tax office, so that they can be supervised until delivery. But under the new legislation, Patel will be permitted to supervise nothing but surgery.

Surrogate mothers waiting for check up

The proposed bill bans in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics from brokering surrogacy transactions. It also emphasizes for the establishment of an “ART bank” that will be responsible for locating surrogate mothers as well as reproductive donors. Fertility clinics will only come into contact with surrogates on the operating table and the reason for this is to create a safe distance between the clinic and the surrogate to avoid unethical practices according to Dr. R.S. Sharma, deputy director general of the ICMR and member-secretary of the bill’s drafting committee. “IVF clinics should only be concerning themselves with science.”

Dr Patel does not agree with the legislation maintains that ART banks will not have enough experience to determine whether a woman is fit for surrogacy. “The trust the clients and surrogate mothers have with me is what makes the whole thing secure and safe. And at the end, when they want to buy a house or a piece of land for farming, we get them the best deal. With this bill, we will not know what they are going to do with such a big amount of money,” she says.

Stateless children

During nine months, Kari Ann Volden, a Norwegian woman have been battling against the Norwegian government to adopt the twins Adrian and Michael, who was born from a surrogate mother in India January 24, 2010. According to Norwegian rule, the woman who gives birth to the child is the legal mother.

Family Minister Audun Lysbakken promised in May 2010 that the Ministry should take into account the children and make a moral exception in the case even if Kari Ann Volden was not considered to be the mother of the children but when it emerged that she had lied about the eggs being hers the application then was rejected. Therefore she is now caught in India with the two young boys hoping that her adoption application still will be granted.

According to the Norwegian authorities, the children are Indian government’s responsibility. But Indian authorities claim that the children are Norwegian and the twins are therefore now stateless. Norwegian government justifies the refusal on the basis of international conventions and Norwegian law to prevent the purchase and sale of children. This is the first time that such a case is dealt with in Norway. Norway has ratified the Convention on Human Rights, which states that children’s best interests will be emphasized, even when it comes to adoption across national borders. And that’s what this case is all about children’s best interests, not their biological connection.

After the birth of the two boys, the authorities demanded a DNA test to finish up the adoption process, and Volden admitted then that both eggs and sperm was donated and the Norwegian adoption authorities put their foot down for the adoption of the two twins. Volden is sorry that she had told the adoption authorities that the eggs were hers but says she said it to protect the boys and herself. “I did not think that the case would receive such attention. I thought we would be in India for seven weeks, but now we have been here for seven months,” she said.

Labor Party politician has followed the case with great interest for a long period. The case created great interest among the people, expressed both through the Facebook support group and fundraising since Volden is suffering economically. Much indicated that the case was about to resolve it when the family minister Audun Lysbakken opened to domestic adoption, but it was paradoxically this opportunity that led to incorrect information was revealed.

Indian surrogate mother: “We do it for money”

Regina A. Singh has never met the Norwegian father who applied for surrogacy alone and she thinks it’s strange to carry out a child who should not have a mother. “It would never have happened in India. But I do not think about it. This is not my baby,” Regina says. She is 23 years old and has two children from before herself. This is her first time as a surrogate mother. “We needed the money. First, my husband refused, but I managed to persuade him,” she said. For the job, she gets 350,000 rupees, around $7,740 and that is a fortune for the family of four, which until now have lived by the husband’s income of about $ 900 a month. But Regina has chosen to keep the matter secret from the in-laws as they would never understand. In the tradition-bound India, it is often associated with shame to rent out her womb for others especially in rural areas; surrogacy is combined with social stigma, and is seen as dirty and immoral.

Udmala Mansoya (30) and Hema Rawal (34) admittes its hard work but they do it for the money. Both have undergone multiple pregnancies earlier but this is completely different. Both agree that once is enough for them as a surrogate mother. Udmala will use the money to buy a house, while Hema will ensure that her own three children receive education, but none of them get the money in hand, they are managed for them by Akanksha Clinic. “Many of the women can not read or write, so we think it is best that we look after their money for them,” says clinic administrator Himesh Patel who helps the women with house and land purchase. If something were to happen during pregnancy or birth the women have little protection as Indian insurance companies refuse to insure pregnant women, and women are therefore at the mercy of their employers.”We did not know this. But we hope it goes well,” says Hema and Udmala.

Here are a list of countries that performs surrogacy and information about the process. http://www.surrogate-mother.ru/eng/surrogacy/surrogacy_different_countries.html

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