Friday, 31 January 2014
Thursday, 30 January 2014
Wednesday, 29 January 2014
Morocco's parliament has unanimously amended an article in the penal code that allowed a rapist to escape prosecution if he married his underage victim.
The amendment to Article 475 of the penal code, first proposed by the country's Islamist-led government a year ago, was amended by lawmakers on Wednesday, parliamentary sources said.
The article in question made international headlines in March 2012 when Amina al-Filali, 16, was forced to marry a man who had allegedly raped her.
After seven months of marriage to the 23-year-old man, she committed suicide in 2012. Her parents and a judge had forced the marriage to protect the family honour.
The incident sparked calls for the law to be changed. The traditional practise of forced marriage can be found across the Middle East and in countries such as India and Afghanistan, where the loss of a woman's virginity out of wedlock puts a stain on a family's honour.
Monday, 27 January 2014
Friday, 24 January 2014
Thursday, 23 January 2014
Wednesday, 22 January 2014
Footage of the settlers surrounded by an angry crowd led the TV news in Israel that day, with commentators saying serious bloodshed was averted by Palestinians who shielded the settlers.
Seven Israelis were questioned and placed under house arrest, police said. Israeli defence minister Moshe Yaalon warned he would show zero tolerance, but Palestinians are sceptical.
So far there have been at least two cases of vandalism in apparent response to the Qusra incident. Today residents of a village in the area reported that the door of a mosque was set on fire and graffiti read “Blood for blood, Qusra.”
Settlers have damaged hundreds of trees in Qusra, killed 18 sheep, torched six cars and set fire to a mosque in dozens of attacks, said mayor Abdel Azim Wadi. The village has lost half its lands to settlements.
The mayor said Israeli soldiers either stand by during settler attacks or fire tear gas, rubber bullets and occasionally live rounds at Palestinians if the attacks escalate into stone-throwing clashes. A Qusra man was killed by army fire and dozens were wounded by settlers and soldiers, he said.
Palestinians say “price tag” is part of Israel’s policy of cementing control over the West Bank, the largest of three war-won areas the Palestinians want for a state. They note that Israel has been providing practical support for outposts even though they were set up without formal government permission.
Tuesday, 21 January 2014
The setting was unusual for marital bliss, but it was no deterrent for the dozen-odd couples who tied the knot last week in a mass wedding at a relief camp for riot victims in Muzaffarnagar.
Having fled communal violence that recently swept parts of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and left scores dead and thousands homeless, the newly married couples of Malakpur relief camp held hands together and vowed to make a fresh beginning.
Mass weddings are not uncommon in India, where community and religious leaders sometimes host them for poorer communities to help ease their financial burden.
But a spurt of mass weddings at relief camps sheltering thousands displaced by the riots is evoking contrasting emotions. Some hail them as efforts to rebuild lives. Local authorities, however, see them as unnecessary distractions.
For the time being though, the riot-hit areas of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in Uttar Pradesh are awash with mass weddings.
According to media reports, 27 couples got married in a camp in Shahpur village on September 25. Seventy-two more tied the knot in Jolla village on October 4. On October 7, 155 more marriages took place in Shahpur, while another 32 couples took marriage vows in a village called Budhana.
Altogether, more than 300 marriages have now taken place since rioting between Hindus and Muslims in India's most populous state subsided little more than a month ago.
"People don't have money, especially now, so we want to help them," said Dr Nadeem Chaudary, 30, a medical professional and member of the Malakpur leadership committee, as he waited for the latest mass wedding to start.
"It's very tense here."
Driven to destitution by the riots and living in fear of fresh violence, residents of the relief camps agree with him.
The weddings perhaps give them a semblance of normalcy in abnormal times.
Weeks after the riots - Uttar Pradesh's worst since Hindu activists destroyed a mosque in the city of Ayodhya in 1992 -tensions between communities run high with erstwhile neighbours eyeing each other with suspicion.
It also gave the family of Raeshma, 16, an opportunity to hope again.
Despite her young age, her parents had arranged for her to marry another boy living in the relief camp. Both families had lost everything in the riots and the mass wedding organised at the relief camp gave them a window of opportunity to make a fresh start.
Azgari, Raeshma's mother, claimed the marriage would help the family considerably.
"We are so poor that we can't afford to have so many people in the family. Had we been at home, I would have got her married after two years."
It is not known whether Raeshma had any say in the family decision. But the likes of Azgari say they are not left with many choices in the harsh reality of the relief camps.
The 100-member-strong leadership committee of the Malakpur camp also did not seem perturbed by her young age.
Though Indian law prohibits child marriages, Muslim Personal Law does not impose any age restrictions for marriages for the community.
'Good for them'
At the mass wedding ceremony last week, prominent banners proclaiming "Group Marriages for Western UP Victims" were also put up. The sponsor of the ceremony was the Jamait Ulema-i-Hind.
The committee therefore raised Rs 15,000 ($244) for each couple, and bought new clothes and jewelry for the girls and dozens of cookware sets.
So at the wedding ceremony, each couple would get a bag containing the mehr, or groom's gift tothe bride, and another bag containing the jahayz, or household items for the new couple - as well as a cheque to help them settle in a new home, outside the camp.
Maulana Mahmood Mandni, the general secretary of the Jamait Ulema-i-Hind, flagged off the ceremony.
"We feel that if we organise this [weddings], it will be a gift for them, and good for them," he said. "They can get a homely feeling".
Authorities in Uttar Pradesh, however, viewed the weddings as a distraction from its three-month target of clearing up the camps.
"We never supported these marriages and told them they should encourage them only after they returned to their village," Raj Sharma, the district magistrate of Muzaffarnagar, told Al Jazeera.
But mass marriages continue nevertheless.
According to Madhu Kishwar, a prominent women activist and senior fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, the motives behind the mass weddings are still unclear.
"In this case [of Muzaffarnagar], one would have to look at the specific ties of the case - how much of it was done for media, or how much of it was to make a point, or how much of it was to respond [to the communities]," she said.
"But it also shows that the state government has failed miserably, both at the law-and-order level and at the level of aiding the victims."
The state government has announced a rehabilitation package for Rs 500,000 ($8146) for victim's families. It also plans to send them back to their respective villages soon, though activists say it would take much longer than planned.
In the meantime, 68-year-old Shah Shamsad of the Shahpur relief camp is planning to marry off his 18-year-old daughter Naima when the next mass wedding take place and send her away.
"Because of the violence that happened, what if it happens again, to her?" he asks.
Nuptials, it seems, is increasingly being seen by riot victims in relief camps as a road to redemption.
Monday, 20 January 2014
Sunday, 19 January 2014
The case of a 10-year-old girl in Pakistan's Punjab province, whose employers confessed to beating her to death last week, has highlighted concerns about child rights. The BBC's Saba Eitizaz reports on a case that shocked the nation.
Human rights organisations argue that Pakistan's labour laws ignore child abuse in a country where almost half the population is under the age of 18. It is an oversight which often has tragic consequences.
Evidence of that can be found in a small village in the province of Punjab, where a haunting wailing echoes off the crumbling mud walls of a ramshackle home.
It sounds like many mothers crying for lost children.
It is called the "wayne" - the song for the dead and is an integral part of the local funeral ritual.Tortured
The village is called Moza Jindraakha which means "the place where life is protected".
But things are different now - a young girl's death is being mourned.
Iram Ramzan was sent to Lahore to cook for a middle class family - so her own family could eat. Her two sisters are also employed as domestic helps for different families.
But Iram came back in a white shroud - apparently tortured to death by her employers.
Her mother Zubaida Bibi, who has lost her hand in a threshing accident, faced the prospect of bringing up three young daughters without a husband's financial support.
Zubaida says that she had little option but to send her daughters out to earn money as domestic servants.
She thought they would be safer in more affluent homes rather than on the streets. But she was wrong and has had to go through the torture of burying her youngest child - and now she does not know where to bury her guilt.
"Maybe we should have begged for scraps instead," the inconsolable mother laments. "How was I to know I was sending my daughter to her tormentors?"
Last year Iram's family was telephoned by a distant uncle in Lahore telling them to rush to the hospital.'An accident'
Doctors said she had died on arrival. There were torture marks on her body and rope burns on her wrists and feet.
Her employers, the Mahmood family had brought her in. The police immediately took the family into custody.
The girl had been beaten to death with an iron pipe, which was later found in the Mahmood's home, along with the ropes used to tie her up.
Nasira Mahmood has confessed to repeatedly beating the child with the pipe while her 16-year-old son stood by and watched.
In jail, Mrs Mahmood is having tea and biscuits. She is almost casual when asked why she did it, saying it was all an accident and that no one expected Iram to die.
"Three times she stole money from me. I got angry, that's all," she says. "She said she was getting sleepy so I tied her up and left to make dinner."'Indications of beating'
Police investigators say that Iram died slowly, not accidentally and breathed her last while still tied up.
"Right away, they admitted to having tortured her," says Police Superintendent Umar Cheema.
"There were marks of violence, indications of beating, swelling, indicating that the girl was tortured with a heavy instrument which later turned out to be a domestic gas pipe."
Iram's employers were paying her $23 (£14) a month - a small price to pay for her life.
In the same week that Iram died, another 15-year-old domestic maid, Azra, was found strangled to death in her employer's home in Lahore, allegedly the victim of sexual abuse before she was killed.
The Society For the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) say they receive about 20 cases like Iram and Azra's every year. These are just the cases where a child has died. There are many others featuring assault and abuse, many of which go unreported.
Sparc representative Sajjad Cheema says that whatever legislation for children that does exist is not being implemented because there are no administrative mechanisms in place to regulate child workers.
"The United Nations has sent a recommendation to the Pakistan government to adopt a child protection policy," Mr Cheema says. "We need to know whether we are going to let these children work like this, to die, or are we going to protect them, and how will we do it?"
Human rights groups say more than 12 million children are pushed onto the streets and the homes of strangers to seek an income.
Without a legal safety net, these children are slipping through the cracks with no one to catch them.
Meanwhile, in the village of Moza Jindraakha, a child-sized mound of earth marks Iram's resting place.
Right next to the graveyard, is a green and yellow field where she used to play with the other children - before her childhood and her life was cut short by a combination of cruelty, official indifference and poverty.
Friday, 17 January 2014
Wednesday, 15 January 2014
Monday, 13 January 2014
Friday, 10 January 2014
Monday, 6 January 2014
Friday, 3 January 2014
Wednesday, 1 January 2014
When women are considered simplyfitnah-full temptresses and seductresses in need of being controlled not actually feeling human beings. :(
When commenting on a piece of news stating that young harassers have been detained in Saudi Arabia, an official said the relevant authorities will investigate harassment cases and will not rush at making judgments because sometimes girls are to blame for being harassed.According to him, nail polish can seduce men and can be interpreted as a call to be harassed; therefore any girl who exposes her eyes or face or wears her abaya in an unusual style or goes out with her colleagues to have lunch near her workplace - like what happened with the Khobar girls - must blame themselves for being harassed by men. This understanding of violence was confirmed by a statement made by head of the court of appeal as he said that women leaving their homes to go to the market or to work is one of the reasons behind abusing her. But this does not mean that women who stay home will be safe from abuse.The Protection from Abuse department confirmed in a statement that it cannot respond to the requests made by women abused in their homes after 10:00 p.m. Meaning, even women who stay home are not safe from abuse. If women are abused at home after 10 p.m., the social affairs ministry cannot protect them and cannot force men who abuse their wives or children from abstaining to resort to violence after 10 p.m.Following all these “official” statements, we understand that violence against women is justified according to men’s mood. So if a man runs into a girl whose nails are polished or who’s wearing eye make-up, he’s the one to decide whether she deserves to be abused or not?Timing is also important when it comes to this issue as the situation is different between women who leave their houses in the evening and women who leave their houses in the morning. But there are even different opinions regarding this. For example, if a girl goes out with her friends to the mall for lunch and men happened to pass by, then the girls deserve to be abused. But according to the head of the court of appeal, leaving the house in the first place justifies abuse against women. For some policemen, if a man abuses his wife, then he’s disciplining her.The paradox which always crosses my mind is this. When a wife reports her husband to the police because he beat her up, the police tells her it’s a family problem and not a legal one. But if she goes to her brother for help and if the latter beats up her husband, the police intervenes and considers the incident as a felony.In other words, when two men fight, regardless of kinship, it’s considered a harmful act banned by law. But if this violent act is practiced against a woman, the issue becomes as philosophical as that of what came first, the chicken or the egg. Don’t be surprised that a girl is also held responsible if she’s raped.