A Christian is beaten by Pakistani police. (Photo: © Reuters). Photo courtesy of: The Clarion Project
by, Tahir Gora | The Clarion Project
The Pakistani Consul-General in Toronto, Muhammad Nafees Zakaria, was not happy when he had to listen to Canadian Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander. The Minister’s message was clear: Pakistan must address its human rights violations and mistreatment of minorities such as Hindus, Christians and Ahmadis.
Alexander was speaking to the International Christian Voice’s event in memory of Pakistani parliamentarian Shahbaz Bhatti, who was assassinated by the Taliban three years ago for demanding an end to the country’s blasphemy law. The blasphemy law is like a black sword hanging over the heads of Pakistan’s minorities. There is even a shameful declaration form for Ahmadi Muslims that declares them to be non-Muslims at the Consul-General’s Toronto office.
Alexander mentioned the Pakistani state authorities’ bleak record on free press. He talked about a journalist, Saleem Shahzad, who was allegedly killed by the notorious intelligence agencies.
Pakistani Consul-General Zakaria did not say a single word about repealing the blasphemy law. He didn’t even say he’d deliver the message to the Pakistani government. He couldn’t even bring himself to tell Canadian parliamentarians that he’d pass on their concerns to Islamabad, even if he doesn’t agree with Alexander.
Instead, Zakaria blamed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan for the problem of the Taliban in Pakistan. He framed the Taliban as a product of the covert U.S. effort against the Soviets, leaving Pakistan innocent and noble. This is a common excuse used by the Pakistani establishment that doesn’t want to take responsibility for their involvement in creating the problem of the Taliban and other extremists.
Pakistan’s establishment still considers those Islamic terrorists and their sharia-bound ideology as an asset for them strategically, even as the growing anarchy in the region and the actions of different Taliban groups force the Pakistani government to take a stronger stance.
The Consul-General’s discussion of the Taliban and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was a diversion.
The official declaration of Ahmadi Muslims as non-Muslims by the state of Pakistan happened long before the Soviet invasion. The blasphemy laws and oppression of minorities has nothing to do with that conflict.
The laws have made hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis flee the country. They have directly and indirectly caused hundreds of deaths and the destruction of dozens of churches, Hindu and Sikh temples and Ahmadi mosques.
Mr. Zakaria, Consul-General of Pakistan, please don’t be upset by our Minister Alexander’s sincere message to the Pakistani government. Please convey it and think about it.
Clean-up on aisle 6. Photo courtesy of: Khaama Press
‘..Muzzie go boom..’
by, Ghanizada | Khaama Press | h/t Trop
GHAZNI, Afghanistan: At least seven militants were killed while making improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in eastern Ghazni province of Afghanistan.
The interior ministry following a statement said the incident took place inside a mosque in Deh Yak district on Saturday.
The statement by interior ministry further added that the explosion left seven militants dead and there were no other casualties.
Interior ministry condemned the anti-government militant groups for using religious places for conducting terrorist activities and said such activities show that the militant groups are acting against the principles of Islam.
The anti-government militant groups including the Taliban militants frequently use improvised explosive device (IED) as the weapon of their choice to target Afghan and coalition security forces, however innocent civilians are mostly targeted in such attacks.
The United Nations in its latest report earlier last month also said that the improvised explosive device (IEDs) planted by anti-government armed militant groups, were the major contributor to civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
UN in its report said the anti-government armed militant groups were responsible for 34 percent of all civilian casualties which were caused due to improvised explosive device (IEDs).
by, Zofeen T. Ebrahim | Index on Censorship
The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) have pronounced that laws prohibiting child marriage in Pakistan are un-Islamic. The move has been slammed by a coalition of over a hundred Islamabad-based civili society organisations, who have labelled it a violation of Pakistani women’s and girls’ fundamental human rights. The CII is a constitutional body but its advice is non-binding on both the government and the parliament.
The CII’s declaration on early marriage follows hot on the heels of another controversial proclamation by its chairman Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani, saying that the current law requiring a man to seek written permission from his wife before contracting a second marriage should be amended.
Experts see these the CII’s priorities skewed at a time when the country is already reeling from an extremist onslaught for which there has been little condemnation from the same quarters. Instead, it has found fit to pick on issues that had long been settled and accepted by the Pakistani society.
“We are not conspiracy theorists, but are forced to wonder why such deliberately anti-women/girls advice comes now, 53 years after the Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961, was promulgated?” asked a group of civil society organisations, including Women Action Forum and Pakistan Reproductive Health Network, in a joint press release. The CII’s advice, it stated, came at a “critical juncture”, when the government was holding talks with the Taliban.
“Does the government wish to further appease and placate the bloodthirsty killers of 60,000 Pakistanis with further Islamisation and shariatisation measures? If so, why does the so-called Islamisation begin and end only with a violation of Pakistani women’s and girls’ fundamental human rights, enshrined in the unanimously endorsed constitution, and even before that, inherent in our humanity?” the statement read.
“This shows a mindset that is regressive,” says rights activist and documentary film maker Samar Minallah, who has worked extensively on highlighting traditions like Vani (women and girls given in marriage to hostile families as compensation for a relative’s crime to end feuds) and child marriage.
“It shows how Islam continues to be misinterpreted and distorted for political reasons,” Minallah continued, adding: “The shocking part is that the parliamentarians reinforce this mindset by remaining silent. It is a deliberate effort to create confusion and degrade women.”
Rafia Zakria, a lawyer and regular Dawn columnist, fears this may well legalise child abuse. She argues CII’s edict is unacceptable because “there are many Islamic scholars who have issued rulings opposing child marriage, highlighting the contractual aspect of Islamic marriage and the fact that minors cannot give consent hence making such marriages prima facie unacceptable.”
Zakaria also points out that Pakistan has ratified and signed several international treaties underscoring the necessity of protecting children especially girls. ”Cumulatively it will serve to substantiate stereotypes about Pakistan as a country that cannot respect the rights of women and children, and which is oriented backwards into ignorance as opposed to forward into enlightenment.”
“Health consequences of early marriage are grave and many,” explains Dr Farid Midhet who heads the Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) in Pakistan for USAID.
The adolescent girl, he says, is incapable of fully understanding and bearing the burden of pregnancy and childbirth. “Probability of maternal death and neonatal death is significantly higher in the early ages (under 20 years).” Having worked in the field and with communities, Midhet says premature births and congenital abnormalities are higher among births to young mothers. In addition, he finds, there is an increased risk of malaria, sexually transmitted diseases and cervical cancer among women who marry early.
Apart from the physiological toll early marriage takes on a young girl, the social consequences are as grave. “Early marriage denies the girl child her right to education, bonding with her peers, personality development and mature thinking. Young girls are almost always married against their wishes, or they are unable to fully understand and give consent for the marriage,” he said.
And so Midhet feels it is important for public health experts to voice their concerns by “making a case against early marriage, listing the social, health, economic and religious factors, and then approach the CII (or other scholars/institutions) to request them to declare, or at least recommend, that girls must not be married while they are in puberty, and that delaying marriage is not against Islam.”
In their statement, the civil society coalition has urged the government to abolish CII and in the meantime replace chairman Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani with someone who is “educated, enlightened, progressive and a real Islamic scholar”. It also demanded that the government ensure at least 50 percent of CII members are female and 5 percent non-Muslims.
Obviously distraught, the little girl on the (left) has just learned that tomorrow is her wedding day to a 94-year-old Moslem man that she has never met. She is almost 1-year-old which makes her an eligible bachelorette in the Islamic world. Inshallah.
A new initiative to end child marriage in Pakistan will see the creation of child-marriage free zones.
by, The Clarion Project
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the UN special envoy on global education, has announced the establishment of “child-marriage free zones” in Pakistan, as part of a global effort to combat the practice.
The scheme will try to keep Pakistani girls in school. The UN has pledged $10 million and the 100 million euros to boost the number of children in education. Women’s education one of the cornerstones of the UN Millennium Development Goals, which aims to get every child into education by December 2015 (among other goals).
Gordon Brown said in his announcement “as part of our campaign to get every child at school, we want to remind people that the world does not want girls to be married as girls, as brides when they should be at school.” He made the announcement while on a visit to Islamabad at the invitation of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Child marriage is widespread in Pakistan, particularly in rural areas where literacy rates are low, and most children do not stay in full-time education. Many families are forced to sell their daughters to older men, as they cannot afford to feed them at home.
Charities, NGOs and activists have been campaigning against child marriage in Pakistan for some time. Action Aid and Girls Not Bridesrun their own campaigns in Pakistan specifically, as well as in other countries where child marriage is common. The Girl Effect fights to end child marriage and keep girls in education worldwide, based on the principle that educating girls and keeping them from becoming mothers too young breaks the cycle of poverty.
Pakistani lawmaker Marvi Memon is fighting to raise the fine for child marriage from $10 to $1,000. She told NBC “these girls are being treated as cattle. They are dying. We cannot have little girls being married off at 15 and 16 and being forced to produce kids. It doesn’t make sense medically, and it doesn’t make sense economically.” She is from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League.
Conservatives typically support the practice as traditional. The Council of Islamic Ideology, a body which advises the government on how to keep legislation compliant with sharia law, recently ruled that current restrictions on child-marriage are “un-Islamic.”
According to Mr. Brown there are seven million Pakistani children who are not in school.
Editorial Footnote: I think they already have “Child-Marriage Free Zones” in Pakistan. Those are the areas where the Christians and Hindus live. I bet those new child-marriage free zones will be the smallest, most remote parcels of uninhabitable land known to mankind. I’m quite sure no Moslem male.. especially a Pakistani Moslem male would come within a 1,000 yards of a “Child-Marriage Free Zone.” That is, unless he was coming only to rape and molest the little girls, like normal and then, drag them and their dolls off to be married outside of “the zone.” – j.s.m
Most of the women and children trafficked endure months if not years of torture before rescue. Photo courtesy of: The Daily Mail Online
- As many as 25,000 Moldovans fall prey to trafficking gangs each year
- Of those, 10% are thought to be children according to the IOM
- Author Stela Brinzeanu met trafficking victims while researching new novel
- Bessarabian Nights follows two friends as they hunt for a trafficked girl
Beaten, Raped, Tortured and Starved
by, Stela Brinzeanu | The Daily Mail Online | h/t The Muslim Issue
Victoria avoids all eye contact. Her gaze alternates between boring into the ground and scouring the horizon out the window. Her right foot taps nervously on the wooden floor.
She is one of the 55 female trafficking victims helped each year at the crisis intervention centre run by the International Organisation for Migration and the Ministry of Labour in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau.
Her story is shocking. ‘A childhood friend told me she worked in a boutique in Dubai and could help me get a similar job,’ she explains. ‘She put me in touch with a guy who arranged my trip to Odessa [in Ukraine] and onward from Kiev to Dubai.
‘In Dubai I was met by a Russian speaking woman, Oxana, who took me to a flat with six other girls from Eastern Europe.
‘Oxana told me I’d been sold and took my passport away. I refused to see clients and as a result, was denied food. My cries and pleas were met with blows and kicks.’
Appalling though it is, Victoria is by no means alone. She’s just one of an estimated 800,000 women and children tricked and trafficked into a life of beatings, rape and torture every year.
In Moldova, the country that she – and I – once called home, human trafficking is a huge problem, with an estimated 25,000 Moldovans trafficked abroad in 2008 according to Moldova’s national Bureau of Statistics.
Men are taken to work on building sites and farms, while women like Victoria are mostly sold into the sex trade in Turkey, Russia, Cyprus, the UAE, and elsewhere.
Many of those taken abroad suffer extreme violence and are beaten and raped by their ‘owners.’ Photo courtesy of: The Daily Mail Online
Victims can be as young as 12-years-old, with the International Organisation for Migration estimating that 10 per cent of the Moldovans taken are children.
I met Victoria while researching my novel, Bessarabian Nights, which follows two friends as they attempt to save a third from the trafficking gangs still common in Eastern Europe.
Shockingly, many of the women I spoke to had been sold into prostitution by people they knew and told me that many of recruiters were women.
Some of the girls didn’t even think of themselves as victims: Having previously been abused by family members, they considered violence to be normal.
One girl who certainly thought that way was Irina, a girl brutalised and left pregnant by her violent father before being trafficked to Turkey.
‘There is nothing extraordinary or unusual about my story. Or I don’t think so,’ she told me. ‘Like many other families in Moldova, ours was very poor – so poor we fed our dog dried corn.
‘After my mother died of breast cancer and father went to prison for raping me, I was left alone and pregnant.
‘My godmother offered to help with the abortion and arranged for me to go to Turkey. “The conditions are much better there and they’ll look after you,” she told me.
‘At the airport in Istanbul I was met by two men who drove me to a property where there were three other girls, Moldovan and Ukrainian, and told me I was to serve their clients.
‘I told them I was pregnant but the men raped me in the next room that same day.’
One of the women currently being helped by in the IMO’s Chisinau anti-trafficking centre. Photo courtesy of: The Daily Mail Online
For rural girls like Irina, high unemployment, widespread domestic violence and rife alcoholism further exacerbate the problem and make them more vulnerable to human trafficking than their city dwelling counterparts.
Over half the victims I met were from the Moldovan countryside, where a patriarchal mentality and religious traditions still uphold discrimination against women.
The recruiters exploit the fact that these people are less knowledgeable about the process and risks of moving abroad for work, and as in Irina’s case, tell them they’ll be well treated when, in fact, the reality is quite different.
Although many do eventually escape their captors, the impact of being forced into slavery can have severe emotional consequences as Victoria makes plain.
‘Locked up and under constant security, I saw no way out,’ she continues. ‘Weak from starvation and abuse, I agreed to seeing clients.
‘There was no choice but work the streets and nightclubs every day, sometimes serving up to a dozen men or even more.
Victoria is just one of an estimated 800,000 women sold into sex slavery abroad each year. Photo courtesy of: The Daily Mail Online
‘My captors took all the money on the pretext I owed them for flights and accommodation. The security guy who drove me everywhere raped me every time I refused his advances, which was almost daily.
‘My bruises and cuts were habitually covered with cheap make-up. After a few weeks I managed to use the phone of one of my clients and called a friend I knew in Dubai.
‘She helped me run away and report my circumstances to a charity organisation there. I was promptly returned to Moldova.’
Others, such as Irina, find ways to adapt – even if that means overcoming repeatedly being raped when dealing with the aftermath of an abortion.
‘I cried and pleaded them to spare me the ordeal [of being prostituted] but was told they had paid good money for me, which I had to return,’ continues Irina.
‘I was driven to various hotels and houses to see men for two weeks before I had the abortion. Days after, I was taken to see clients again.
‘It was dreadful at the beginning and I was frightened. But the living conditions there were a lot better than at home and they gave us plenty of food too.
‘I worked in Turkey for a year before we were arrested following a police raid and sent back to Moldova and Ukraine, penniless.’
Although for Irina and Victoria the nightmare is, for now at least, over, while poverty and unemployment in Moldova remain rampant, the problem is likely to continue.
Warning girls of the risks abroad is not enough. Viable alternatives such as skills training, employment opportunities and investment in human potential, needs to be more widely available.
Otherwise, regardless of the potential risks, men, women and children will continue to be trafficked out of Moldova. Ignorance, as much as desperation, is what sends them abroad.
by, Mariam Rizk | AP | The Globe and Mail | h/t Trop
CAIRO, Egypt: A court in Egypt’s second-largest city sentenced two supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi to death on Saturday for throwing two people off the roof of a building during violent protests after the Islamist president was ousted, according to Egypt’s state news agency.
The agency said the court in Alexandria found the men guilty of murdering a child and a young man in the coastal city during mass protests that demanded Morsi’s reinstatement after he was removed from power by the military.
Video courtesy of: MEMRI.TV
The roof incident happened July 5 of last year, two days after Morsi’s ouster. It was one of the most dramatic acts of violence on a day in which 16 other people were killed in Alexandria.
Judge Sayed Abdel-Latif said he would issue the verdict against another 60 defendants charged with violence that day in another two months. It was not clear why the ruling was split into two.
One of those killed was nine-year-old Hamada Badr, who witnesses including an Associated Press journalist said was stabbed and then thrown off the roof. Another man in his twenties was hurled to his death and Morsi supporters were seen beating his lifeless body.
The father of the nine-year old said the verdict was partial vindication.
“But I want all the Brotherhood leadership tried and sentenced to death,” said Badr Hassouna.
Video footage of the incidents was repeatedly aired on national TV. It also showed one of the defendants roaming the roof raising a black flag often used by Islamic militants.
Another 12 people were killed elsewhere in Egypt that day in clashes sparked when tens of thousands of enraged Morsi supporters took to the street after a Muslim Brotherhood leader called on “defending” the ousted Islamist president who was then in military custody.
The violence set the tone for months to come. Authorities have since intensified a crackdown on Morsi supporters and dispersed protests in which over 1,000 were killed and thousands others were detained.
Last week, a court sentenced 529 Islamists to death for killing a policeman in the province of Minya, south of Cairo. Morsi and most of the Muslim Brotherhood leadership are detained, facing trials on charges ranging from murder to incitement of violence to conspiring with foreign groups to destabilize Egypt.
Almost no official has been held accountable for the killing of protesters. The government has declared the Brotherhood a terrorist group and blames it for waging a campaign of violence in Egypt.
Meanwhile, attacks on troops and police have increased, leaving hundreds dead. The Brotherhood denies it is behind the campaign of violence.
Also Saturday, airport officials said a Brotherhood leader arrested in Kuwait at Cairo’s behest was extradited to Egypt for prosecution.
Mohammed el-Qabouti is wanted for trial on suspicion he incited violence against authorities last summer. The handover of el-Qabouti is the first reported case of Cairo’s Gulf allies arresting and extraditing members of the Brotherhood to Egypt. Authorities reported his arrest in Kuwait earlier this month.
Following Saturday’s verdict, defendants in a cage in court raised the four-finger sign, a symbol of defiance associated with Morsi supporters. Families were not allowed into the court, and had to wait outside amid tight security.
Eight months after Morsi’s ouster, his supporters still protest, often sparking clashes on the streets with security forces or political opponents.
In the latest bout of violence Friday, five people were killed including a young female journalist who was shot in the head.
Four others were shot in the head and the chest, Hisham Abdel Hamid, spokesman of the forensic authority told CBC-TV Saturday. Protesters on the scene said they were attacked without warning by police with live ammunition. But the ministry of Interior said the slain were killed by protesters who carried weapons.
One of those killed was a Christian woman. Security officials said protesters pulled her out of her car when they spotted a cross inside. She was then shot, the officials said quoting witnesses. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Elsewhere on Saturday, at least eight people were killed in explosion in a house where fuel was being stored for sale on the black market, the head of security in the southern province of Sohag, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Saber said. It was not immediately clear what caused the blast, which wounded 64 people, including 25 who were in critical condition, Saber said.
Egypt is reeling from a shortage of fuel products, increasing hoarding and illegal sales.
Girls in madrassa.
by, India Tv News | h/t Trop
Sangrur, Punjab: Sangrur police on Thursday arrested the headmaster of a madrasa in Malerkotla on charge of raping a Class 5 student and molesting four other girls inside the madrasa premises.
SSP Sangrur Mandeep Singh Sidhu said, the 13-year-old girl alleged that Mohammad Amjad Khan, 25, in-charge of the madrasa, raped her on February 26 and March 17 inside a room in the madras premises during special classes held after school hours.
The girl alleged that Amjad Khan, a resident of Barkatpura village, also molest four girls of her age on the madrasa premises.
Tempers of parents of fifth class students of the school ran high when they learnt about the sexual assault.
Malerkotla DSP William Zeji rushed to the spot and recorded the statements of the agitated parents who stated that the girls were blackmailed by the accused who threatened to fail them in examination if they did not fulfil his sexual desire.
Amjad Khan has been arrested under section 376 (rape), 354-A (sexual assault) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of Indian Penal Code and other sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
Rangers stand guard outside a temple in Site on Friday. Photo: INP. Courtesy of: Express Tribune
by, Z Ali | Express Tribune | h/t Trop
HYDERABAD, Pakistan: A small temple belonging to the Hindu scheduled-caste community was desecrated on Friday morning.
Three unidentified attackers entered the temple of the Hindu deity, Hanuman, in the SITE area of Latifabad at around 7am. The men prayed for two minutes and then broke Hanuman’s idol before setting the temple on fire. This temple is located in the same compound as the more popular temple of Kali Mata.
“They asked me to let them in because they wanted to pray,” said Darshan, a student of class five, who has been looking after the temple for the last five months. “But, once they entered, they broke the idol, sprayed kerosene oil and set everything ablaze.” The temple’s caretaker, Revo Meghwadh, died five months ago, after being bitten by a snake inside the temple.
According to Darshan, the faces of the attackers were partly covered so he will not be able to identify them. They escaped without facing any resistance, he added. The fire, which gutted the photos of the Hindu deities hanging on the walls, was put out by the locals.
A Hindu woman prays inside the Kali Mata temple in Hyderabad. The Hanuman temple desecrated on Friday is located in the same compound. Photo: INP. Courtesy of: Express Tribune
The temple is located in Kali Mata Colony on the foothills of the Ganjo Takkar mountain range. The colony, inhabited by around 500 to 600 scheduled-caste families, is named after the historic Kali Mata temple, which was located in a mountain cave before the new temple was built. Hanuman’s temple is situated at the colony’s entrance, some 350 to 400 feet away from the Kali Mata’s temple. The attack came weeks before the April 14 fair organised at the temple every year.
According to Krishan Kumar, who represents the colony’s community, Hanuman’s idol was placed at the colony’s gate. Last year, a family gave a small room to shift the idol. He refused to accept that Friday’s attacks were caused due to any rivalries. The people of this area mostly belong to the labour class, he said, adding that they neither fight with neighbouring communities nor have they received any threats. “We have been living here for centuries because of Kali Mata’s temple. Never in the past were we attacked this way.”
The attack triggered protests at Fateh Chowk, Tando Wali Muhammad, Liaquat Colony, Cantt, Bombay Bakery and GOR Colony areas. These protests were, however, attended only by the scheduled-caste Hindus. Those belonging to other castes did not show up at the protests but did issue statements to condemn the attack. Some representatives also visited the temple.
According to DIG Sanaullah Abbassi, the initial investigations suggest the attack did not happen due to any communal strife. Nevertheless, the local DSP and SHO have been suspended and an FIR has been lodged against three unidentified attackers on the complaint of Krishan Kumar.
Meanwhile, deputy commissioner Muhammad Nawaz Soho met the community leaders and assured them that his district administration will pay to remake the idol and the temple.