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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sad reality of India’s witch hunts


Published: 27 March, 2010, 10:18
Edited: 28 May, 2010, 05:51

In parts of India, witch hunting is not merely a dark part of history. It is still happening today.
Assaults are widespread in rural areas, where dozens of women die every year after being accused of witchcraft. Hundreds of others are tortured.
Sushila is a widow in her 60s, and is disabled – her left hand is not fully developed. Yet that didn’t stop men in her village branding her a witch and beating her in public last year.
“They dragged me from my home and said “You are a witch. We’ll remove the evil spirit from you,” Sushila recalls. “They took off my clothes. They pulled my hair and beat me up. They made me drink sewage water.”
Sushila and two other widows, Safina Bibi and Sagrina Bibi, were paraded as witches and thrashed by 15 men. Their public flogging carried on for about an hour.
”They started beating us up, and slapped me hard,” Sagrina Bibi says. “They hit me with slippers. There was a large crowd there but no one came forward to help us.”
Ten years ago, the state of Jharkhand brought in a law against anyone declaring a woman a witch. Yet this has had no effect, with two or three cases taking place every month.
Sanjay Kumar Sahoom, a local journalist, claims that it comes from a lack of education.
“Jharkhand is covered by forests, it’s a tribal area where people aren’t educated,” Sahoom told RT. “There are no medical facilities in the villages, so people don’t get medical treatment. If they fall sick, they go to the local medicine man, who tells them there is someone in your village casting black magic on you.”
Apart from superstitious beliefs, it seems there are occasions when people – especially widows – are targeted for their property. After killing them, the villagers divide the land among themselves.
15-year-old Pinki was orphaned overnight when villagers murdered her parents and her sister in early January. She survived by hiding in the forest.
”The villagers used to call my mother a witch, but she wasn’t one,” Pinki says. “If anybody got sick in the village they accused my parents, and despite my father saying we weren’t to blame, they killed him and my mother and my sister.”
Neighbors everywhere have disputes, but it is in small villages like these that such disputes are ending in women being branded as witches. Unless villagers learn to say no to this practice, no law is going to have any effect on curbing it.
RT’s correspondent in India Karan Singh reports that in most cases there is no way back to society for such women.
“Most of the villagers won’t come up and openly say they support it. And we did ask, and there is this silence along this practice,” Singh said. “In rural India if a child dies, if there is a drought in a village, it’s assumed there is a black magic. And usually the widows or the women who are infertile are assumed to be witches, and they are branded, and they are singled out. And whole village assumes that after that the village will get back to good health.”
Director of the Centre for Social Research, Ranjana Kumari, who is also the President of India's only lobbying organization focused on gender issues, says the witch hunting is caused by lack of education and poverty.
“The problem is because of illiteracy and ignorance… and also the inaccessibility of the health services in the area, and of course, extreme poverty, because… it is traditionally very poor area,” Kumari told RT. “Women are targeted because they are most vulnerable and also they can be easily driven out of the family, of the home, even, to the extreme extent, can be killed. And then, also, of course, whatever property is there… So the core of the whole thing is the economic issue. Whatever belongs to them can be taken and shared.”

Women forced to take justice in their hands in rural India


Published: 20 May, 2010, 09:38
Edited: 27 May, 2010, 10:41
India, New Delhi : Members of the Gulabi Gang (Pink Gang), AFP Photo / Manpreet Romana

One in three women in India is reportedly a victim of domestic violence. Few of their cases make it to court and those that do experience long and costly cases.
But in the north of the country, a group of women are taking the law into their own hands.
They may wear pink saris, but this is not a fashion statement – they wear pink as a symbol of their cause. These vigilante women go after corrupt officials and violent husbands with sticks. Numbering over 100,000 in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, they proudly call themselves the Gulabi Gang or ‘pink gang’.
Their leader is 48-year-old Sampat Pal, who first decided to act when she witnessed domestic violence.
“My neighbor was a young girl who had been married very early. Her husband used to beat her, so I argued with him,” remembers gang Leader Sampat Gulabi Pal. “He threatened me, so I came back with five women and we beat him up. Since then, this movement has taken off. Whenever a woman is beaten or harassed, she comes to me.”
Banda is one of the poorest districts in Uttar Pradesh. Women bear the brunt of discrimination here – dowry demands and domestic violence are common.
“For the last month, my brother-in-law has been hitting me with a stick. He hit my son so badly that he started bleeding,” said Siya Rani, who has come to Sampat for help after being beaten in her own home. She explained that she “approached the police but they didn’t help.”
“When women are harassed, instead of letting them waste years in courts looking for justice, we go to the village and try to arrange a settlement,” states Gulabi Gang leader Sampat Pal. “After all, men and women are two wheels of the same vehicle.”

Click to enlarge
Although most of the gang's actions are on behalf of women, they are increasingly called upon by men. When local farmers decided to take to the streets to demand compensation for failed crops, they asked the Gulabi Gang to be there. “The Gulabi Gang takes up the cause of anybody who faces injustice, whether they are poor or rich,” shared supporter Ashok Srivastava. “It may take money and time, but these women fight against injustice and raise their voices for the innocent.”
But Sampat herself is in danger of being criminalized. Following complaints by the police, she is waiting to hear if she will be formally charged with rioting and attacking government employees.
“The police tell us, ‘Don’t take the law in your own hands.’ So I tell them, ‘We have no option. When we have no faith in the police, we have to protect ourselves.’” Sampat Pal argues.
In rural India, with the administration often corrupt and failing to deliver, and with women still amongst the most oppressed, it was only a matter of time before movements such as Gulabi Gang became popular.

Brazilian Church backlash over raped minor’s abortion sparks debate


Published: 01 April, 2009, 12:54
Edited: 11 October, 2010, 15:37

A raped nine-year-old girl’s abortion, and the subsequent excommunication of her mother and doctors, has spotlighted Brazil’s million annual illegal abortions and the role of the Church.
The abortion performed on a raped nine-year-old girl has instigated debate about terminations and the role of the Church in the world’s most populous Catholic country. The girl was carrying twins, having allegedly been raped by her stepfather for three years.
Abortion is illegal in Brazil, except in cases of rape or where the mother’s life is at risk. Fatima Maia, director of the hospital where the abortion took place, said: “She’s very small. Her uterus does not have the capacity to hold one baby, let alone two.”
Pro-lifers claim the girl was not at risk because she could have had a caesarian-section, as nearly 30,000 girls aged less than 14 do each year in Brazil.
Having failed in his attempt to prevent the twins’ abortion, Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife, announced the girl’s mother and doctors had been excommunicated. Neither the girl nor the stepfather faced such censure.

The Vatican’s standpoint

To try and give a different perspective, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, a Vatican prelate, defended the doctors.
Local clerics have remained resolutely behind their Archbishop. Defending the announcement of the excommunications, the clerics said: “The disclosure of this therapeutic penalty [the excommunication] will do much good to many Catholics, making them avoid this grievous sin.”

Political support for doctors

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao and National Congress members have backed the doctors. President Lula, a Catholic, publicly favors less strict abortion regulations and more liberal sex education.
Changes to abortion are unlikely to become less restrictive in the short term. The Congress has a pro-life majority, which is seeking to tighten access to abortion with a series of initiatives.
While illegal, abortion is a significant health issue in Brazil. Approximately one million Brazilian women have illegal abortions (one in every three pregnancies) every year in Brazil, one fifth of them have to be hospitalized due to complications, according to Ministry of Health estimates.
Illegal abortions in the girl’s Pernambuco state are the largest maternal killer, women’s groups report. Brazilian health ministry statistics show there were 3,050 legal abortions in 2008. A draft law to decriminalize abortion was rejected by three congressional committees in 2008.

Feminists’ frustration continues

“A part of Brazilian society still doesn’t want to stop treating women like they are property,” said Jefferson Drezett, gynecologist and coordinator of the sexual-abuse victims’ service at Pérola Byington Hospital. “This has to change.”
Women’s groups bemoan the power of the Church and the lack of public health services for victims of sexual violence in Brazil. In this case, the nine-year-old girl had to be taken 140 miles to the nearest of Brazil’s 55 legal abortion clinics.
Carla Batista, with Recife SOS Corpo women’s group, said emergency contraceptives are generally unavailable, resulting in a need for illegal abortion. The situation is particularly acute in remote poor communities away from the relatively liberal cities.
Despite public government support, Natalia Mori, director of feminist group CFEMEA, said: “Because of our culture and our political system, there is an alliance between the government and the Catholic Church and other churches, to keep themselves in power.”
There remains considerable popular support for the status quo. Thousands of pro-lifers staged a silent protest against abortion for hours outside the Se Cathedral, Sao Paulo, on Saturday March 28.
Jonathan Stibbs for RT

The racist implications of free speech


Published: 04 December, 2009, 17:04
Edited: 31 December, 2009, 22:50

Although Google refused to remove an image of Michelle Obama depicted as a monkey, the picture has since disappeared. Who has the power to remove such content? And does US devotion to freedom of speech encourage racism?
Last month, America’s First Lady fell victim to internet bigotry. A picture of Michelle Obama, coarsely depicted as a monkey, ranked highly in searches on Google Images. Although the search engine refused to remove it, regarding it as an expression of free speech, several weeks later the controversial image no longer appears on a Google search. The incident not only begs the question as to who has the authority to eliminate such disturbing material from the Internet, but it also stresses whether the US’s bias towards freedom of expression, and their refusal to conform to Europe’s protocol of stamping out Internet racism, actively encourages such web-based exploitation.
Whilst 32 countries, including the UK and the US, signed up to the European Convention on Cybercrime in 2001, committed to eradicating disturbing material from the Internet, a treaty obliging participating countries to criminalize xenophobic material was received with less universal support. Being more in favor of ‘freedom of speech’, the US, as predicted, chose not to participate in the protocol. In the run-up to the treaty, Jon Fell, a partner of Masons, an international law firm, explained why the US would not become involved in such a convention. He spoke on Out Law News:
“The US is not going to go for this. The ban on hate speech was originally part of the Convention on Cybercrime, but it had to be dropped when it became apparent that the US would not support the Convention if it encroached upon its constitutional right of free speech.”
The recent racist attack on Michelle Obama has brought into question whether endorsing freedom of expression encourages racism to circulate the Internet. Or would the enforcement of a ban on racist and other bigoted content imply an infringement on the right to freedom of speech?
RT spoke exclusively to Scott Rubin, Global Communication and Public Policy officer at Google, to unearth the whereabouts of the controversial image, and establish if a commitment to free speech is more important than stamping out prejudiced material from the Internet.
Despite the fact Google chose not to delete the image, according to Rubin, even if they had decided to remove the picture from their index – which would eliminate it from their results – for content to be removed from the Internet, the webmaster of the page hosting the material has to take it down. The xenophobic picture of Michelle Obama was originally posted on a blog site called Hot Girls, who decided to remove it following the uproar the image created. Although the blog site’s subsequent deletion of the picture is the reason why it can longer be found on a Google search, according to Rubin, even if material that some consider offensive is prohibited, it will not disappear but rather be driven underground. As a result, Rubin said, “there are countless attempts to repress information that ultimately fail.”
Although Google insist they do not endorse racist or bigoted views, their decision to keep the Michelle Obama image and accompany it with an apologetic explanation, supports their position that the integrity of search results are their priority. Defending Google’s actions, Rubin said:
“We provide numerous platforms of free expression at Google. These are critical conversations that the Internet has enabled and that we hope we are facilitating through our various services.”
When asked about his views about racism and freedom of expression on the Internet, Rubin said:
“The best way to stamp out racism is to expose it – the very essence of free speech.”
Whist subjecting the wife of arguably the most powerful man on the planet to online, racially-motivated ridicule, and subsequently refusing its subtraction, highlights the US’s undeterred commitment to free speech, the incident is not an isolated one. In 2001 there was a high-profile legal battle between French anti-racism groups and Yahoo, concerning the sale of Nazi memorabilia by a US-hosted Internet auction site. As it is illegal in France to display or sell anything racially motivated, a French judge ruled that Yahoo’s US website must prevent French citizens from being able to see any Nazi memorabilia for sale and if Yahoo was to violate this regulation, it would be liable to pay a fine of $13,000 a day. A US federal judge, Jeremy Fogel, appealed the ruling and decided that Yahoo cannot be forced to pay a fine imposed by the French legal system for placing Nazi goods on their US-based website.
By making this decision – that different law courts can conclude what can and cannot be visible on websites hosted by different countries – the judge created a risky precedent. Eight years later, this standard has truly manifested itself.
Although America’s appetite for encouraging free speech inevitably leads to discriminatory and sinister material being circulated, promoting racism via the internet is not confined to the States. Earlier this year in Britain, a young professional footballer became injured and, from his hospital bed, wrote an extremely racist remark to a friend about the ethnicity of the nurses looking after him. Foolishly, his racist remark was visible to over 1,000 Facebook users.
As long as countries like the US refuse to criminalize xenophobic content from the web, the boundless and anonymous nature of the Internet means it will continue to be exploited and used as a tool to promote racism.
Gabrielle Pickard for RT

Israeli soldiers await sentence for using human shield


Published: 25 October, 2010, 23:45
Edited: 26 October, 2010, 08:43

Two Israeli soldiers are awaiting sentencing after being convicted of using a Palestinian child as a human shield during the Gaza war.
Israel reinforced a ban on involving civilians five years ago, but Palestinians believe troops continue to risk innocent lives in military operations.
Majiid Rabah was just nine years old when soldiers grabbed him – and made him check for bombs.
“I was just sitting here. Israeli soldiers took me over there. There were two bags, and they told me to open them, but I didn't know how to do it,” Majiid recalls.
He was terrified of the abandoned briefcases which the soldiers thought could be booby-trapped. And his frightened family was forced to watch.
“One of them put his hand on my son’s shoulder and made him go into the toilet cubicle. I heard a few shots fired soon after. I felt like I was dying. My little daughter, who was with me, kept saying ‘They killed him’,” Majid’s mother Afaf Rabah shares the painful memory.

And yet, it was five years ago that Israel’s Supreme Court made the law crystal clear:

“Human shielding is an absolute no-no. Endangering civilians deliberately is absolutely prohibited,” says David Benjamin, former Israeli Army legal advisor.

But the reality on the ground is still very different. Yehuda Shaul spent his army years in the Palestinian territories. He knew the Supreme Court’s ruling, but watched his sergeant ignore it. So did the soldiers serving under him. He has founded the “Breaking the Silence” organization, which is now trying to defend Palestinian civilians.
“You surround the house and then you grab one of the neighbors and send him in front of you into the house to make sure if someone is going to open fire – he is going to get it and not you, that was a common procedure we were all trained and operated under,” Yehuda Shaul remembers.
Now many of those involved in such operations cannot understand what they are being tried for because “it was so much part of their life.”
The orders to use human shields came from higher officers whom “the system cannot allow to put on trial” that’s why “we are talking about the two low-ranking soldiers – they are going to sacrifice for everything,” Shaul explained.
He added that human shields are still being used.
“When you’re in the field you always think that the judges in Jerusalem – they have the wrong idea about how to do things and you know how to do things, this is the way you were trained,” Yehua Shaul revealed.
The overall situation gives no ground for optimism. Of 150 complaints against Israeli soldiers in the war in Gaza two years ago, only 47 criminal investigations were carried out, and most of them have since been closed.
But Israeli lawyers say convicting the two soldiers is to the Israeli Defense Force’s credit. This will only show that cases of human shielding in the army are out of the normal, believes David Benjamin:
“There are always soldiers that step out of line, that’s part and parcel of running a military operation. To say it’s a general phenomenon that IDF soldiers use human shields – that’s absurd.”
For Majiid’s family, they take comfort they are finally getting justice. Even if it is only against low-ranking soldiers, and not the commanders they accuse of allowing human shields behind the law’s back.

Female genital mutilation – tradition or torture?

Published: 26 June, 2009, 20:45
Edited: 24 August, 2010, 17:06
A girl cries as she is circumcised. (Stephanie Sinclair)

Female genital mutilation, usually associated with Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia, is a growing problem in Europe. Despite criticism, the barbaric practice is thriving with more immigrants coming to Europe.
The operation, in which parts of a girl’s clitoris and labia are cut off, causes urine retention, infertility and death, and those lucky enough to survive such a process will never enjoy sexual relations. UNICEF says over 130 million women and girls are suffering from the aftermath of this procedure worldwide.
“The blood pumped out in waves. Words can't describe the pain. The bleeding was so bad I was rushed to hospital. That is why I am celibate to this day,” remembers Christine Beynis, one of the victims, living in Paris.
In states like Egypt, most women are cut. The practice is now spreading from Africa and Asia to immigrant communities worldwide. More than 100 million suffer globally.
The annual circumcision event begins and ends with prayer services. (Stephanie Sinclair)
Some religions state that female sex organs are sinful, and must be removed to stop intimate pleasure. Hawa Greou served five years in French prison for mutilating 48 girls. “It’s my tradition, my grandmother and ancestors are all excisors. No one’s ever died after my operations,” she said.
Critics insist the practice is barbaric and must be stopped regardless of cultural traditions. Lawyer Linda Weil-Curiel, who put Greou behind bars, has to fight white male colleagues, who say banning foreign tradition is neocolonialism, and dub the method “female circumcision”.
“They would use the word circumcision, which I will not hear of. Because if you did to a young man what

The girl who was being soothed in the second photograph, after her circumcision. (Stephanie Sinclair)
is done to a young woman, he wouldn't say I have been circumcised, he would say I have been mutilated, and right he would be, because it’s equivalent to chopping off the penis for the boy, so for the girl it’s the clitoris and the labia,” the lawyer said. Hawa Greou now says mutilation is wrong, but in many communities girls will continue to be cut, and men order the crime to be committed. Officials say France alone has more than 50,000 victims.
Linda Weil-Curiel's success in court made the state go after the practitioners, but has just pushed the problem elsewhere. Even though the practitioner case has led to France convicting mothers who mutilate their daughters, many instead take their children on special “holidays” abroad.

Ines Laufer, founder of the Hamburg-based Task Force for Effective Prevention of Female Genital Mutilation, says there is a solution.

Child saved from Jehovah’s Witness parents


Published: 11 June, 2009, 14:06
Edited: 02 October, 2010, 12:37

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has demanded that a four-year-old-girl be saved from almost certain death. The girl’s parents, who are Jehovah's Witnesses, were preventing hospital doctors from treating her.
The Tsarelishvili family claims their religious views stopped them from allowing a vital blood transfusion to their daughter Inna.
Police and doctors, however, were ordered to intervene and have now taken the girl suffering from severe burns back to the hospital where she remains in intensive care.
“In this case, it doesn’t matter how you interpret the law and which religion you follow. I demand the child to be urgently transferred to hospital. The police and prosecutors should act in accordance with the law and never allow the state to find itself in such a helpless situation. In this case, I have no interest in the views of parents,” Mikhail Saakashvili said.
The Georgian president added that a criminal case could be launched against the parents if they refused to cooperate.


Published: 22 June, 2009, 10:47
Edited: 26 May, 2010, 05:44

The United Nations says that over five thousand women and children die every year in so-called "honor killings", often where family members kill women who refuse to enter forced marriages.
The brutal custom exists even in liberal countries like Sweden, where some are killed despite going into hiding.
Fatima moved to Sweden from Iran a decade ago. Her new life meant a new school and new friends. But her family, who was steeped in tradition, didn’t agree with her new lifestyle.
“When my father learned that I had Swedish friends, he told me not to spend time with them,” she confessed.
“I refused. He and my brothers started beating me severely. Me, my sister and my mother, who defended me,” she added.
After her father threatened to kill her, the young woman ran away to a different city. Now Fatima (as she has decided to call herself) has been in hiding for several years.
Fatima’s story is an example of a so-called “honor crime”. Parents, mostly from traditional Muslim families, use violence against women to force them into arranged marriages or prohibit them from integrating into society.
Marianne Forslund, a social worker from Gothenburg, Sweden, explains this phenomenon:

“It was their parents who came to Sweden for a better life. And when girls grow up, they want more freedom than their parents can give. And when girls see what opportunities other girls have, it results in family conflicts. I know of 2-3 murder cases, and we also had some girls jumping from balconies.”

One such story rocked Sweden seven years ago. 26-year-old Turkish immigrant Fadime was intimidated by her family for dating a Swedish boyfriend.
She ran away, but was found and shot by her father. Her funeral was televised live and attended by members of the Royal Family.
Fadime’s death sparked massive debate in the moderate Swedish society, and led to the creation of several civil organizations, helping victims of honor crimes. Marianne Forslund heads one of these, and says that they are still unfortunately swamped with work.

“We started with 10 girls 5 years ago, last year we provided help for 160 girls. We help them to change their surnames and we provide them with housing in other cities, so you can’t find them,”
Marianne said.

Secrecy is what these organizations pay special attention to, as the reason for the 2002 killing was that the woman's enraged family had managed to find her.

During RT’s interview with her, Fatima was very nervous and insisted that we not show specific traits of her appearance. She has found a job she likes, and says she is getting on well. But she is still very scared.

“I would rather live in loneliness and struggle to survive than go back to what was my home,”
she acknowledged
Sweden’s Muslim community is estimated at 300 000 people. Social workers stress that the problem does not apply to all Muslim families: 300-400 girls a year run away from their homes to escape abuse. But this, they say, does not make honor crimes less of a threat.
They come to Sweden to seek a better life, but it seems not all of them are ready to leave their traditions behind. And while the Swedish government is investing in the prevention of honor-related crimes, the number of women applying for help every year is not diminishing.

Child porn in open access at Swedish National Library


Published: 22 April, 2009, 10:19

TAGS: Children, Europe

Sweden’s legacy of lax attitudes towards sex has come back to haunt the country’s National Library, which has been found to house large quantities of child pornography in its collection.
While it’s widely known that a wave of liberal thinking swept across Sweden in the 1960s, fewer people are aware that it led to the legalization of child pornography.
When Valentin Bart published his latest novel he had to give four copies to the Royal Library in Stockholm. They archive everything that was ever printed in Sweden. And it’s available for anyone – with a membership card and an idea of what they are looking for.
“If you look at their database, you find titles like ‘bambino’ or ‘Lolita’, etc.,” Bart shares of his discoveries. “What I saw were young boys aged between ten and twelve involved in different sexual activities.”
Child porn was legal in Sweden between 1971 and 1980. Magazines from that era have been stored in the Royal Library for over 30 years. Bart says the staff knew what they were lending out, but no one ever raised the alarm.
“We worry people have been using these images in ways other than for academic research. The library served pedophiles, and it is guilty of a crime, a crime against children, and we want society to know that,” said Birgitta Holmberg from the Association of abused children.
The Library had no comment. Police are now investigating the issue.
In response to what the library has called a delicate issue, access to this particular collection has been closed. The management says they are reviewing their lending policy.
Many are beginning to wonder whether a state institution like the Royal Library could be exempt from the law. Anyone who produces, purchases, or is in possession of pornographic images of children risks up to six years behind bars in Sweden.
The Queen is a staunch advocate of children's rights – but the Royal Family has yet to comment.
Bart’s investigation didn’t make the headlines in Sweden. The writer claims it was hushed up as it made many people uncomfortable. But he says facing the embarrassing pages of national history is everyone’s duty, just like reporting a pedophile next door.

Rotting from the inside: sex abuse and the Catholic Church


Published: 22 May, 2009, 00:59
Edited: 26 June, 2010, 17:17

Catholic sex abuse has a long and ongoing history intertwined with that of religious institutions.
From Ireland to Malta the pandemic has swept across the world, but its caliber remains veiled from the public eye. RT looks at the scale of the problem.
It is almost too soon to give an unemotional response to the revelations of routine sex abuse by appointees, officers, members and employees of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
The Irish Times covers the story honourably, while the Independent seems to minimise the story.
Let's remember that the problem is not Ireland's. It is the church and its many institutions, besides.
Pedophilia runs to the highest levels of society. Five hundred years after the Spanish occupation of the Netherlands, it was the descendent of the Spanish governor, the Duke of Alba, who was fiddling with children in what his family must have considered their hunting grounds.
In Britain, the Chairman of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, an MP now Lord Greville Janner, was named by a boy at a children's home in Leicestershire as a frequent, abusing visitor. The press reported Janner's name, accidentally.
I remembered his name because one of my schoolboy contemporaries, on a trip to the House of Commons in 1977, disappeared for five hours in the company of Mr Janner, who entertained the child in the Commons' tea room. I thought at the time this to be a strange, homosexual oddity. The brief naming of Janner, later expunged from the press, confirmed my suspicions.
Read more here.

The Irish investigation into nationwide, endemic, high-level, child abuse took 10 years to result in a published report. The cost of the investigation has reached €70 million. The establishment, having refused to investigate the case for so long, decided to profit from it. Corruption piled upon abuse.
As one comment to the London Times put it, "Sex Abuse in the catholic church is a misnomer. What is and has been for centuries is the "Systemic Homosexual Grooming" at the root of Catholic theology via Plato, Aristotle, and mainly Greek {Spartan} philosophy.
The church is rotting from the inside out. That is why the cover up term pedophilia is used, when in fact it is pederasty and ephobilia.
Other commentators point out that Malta is another outpost of Catholic sex abuse. I know the Christian Brothers were violent and active in the United States.
That country has other scandals. Unmarked graves at a reform school and no prosecutions?
Child abuse is a merely a decadent pleasure that runs to the top of our societies. It is time for discussion, which is why I devote a small corner of my insignificant site to the topic.
God bless the victims.
Mark Gay, RT


Egypt general defends forced "virginity tests" - report

Tue May 31, 2011 5:16pm GMT

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<p>Students protest during a demonstration outside of the main University building in Cairo March 7, 2011. REUTERS/Peter Andrews</p>
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CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian general has said the military conducted forced "virginity tests" on female protesters in March, CNN reported, actions that outraged Egyptian activists who called for demonstrations to condemn the incident.
Amnesty International had previously called on the government to investigate accusations that the army tortured and abused women arrested in protests.
Rights groups said at least 18 women were arrested on March 9 when army officers forcibly cleared Tahrir Square in Cairo, centre of the protests that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in February. A military council now rules Egypt.
Some of those detained said the abuse included forced "virginity tests," beatings, electric shocks and strip searches while being photographed by male soldiers.
Military officials, who have previously denied the army had any part in such abuses, could not be reached for comment.
The U.S. broadcaster CNN cited a senior general, who asked not to be named, confirming it happened and defending the incident.
"The girls who were detained were not like your daughter or mine," the general said. "We didn't want them to say we had sexually assaulted or raped them, so we wanted to prove that they weren't virgins in the first place."
"These were girls who had camped out in tents with male protesters in Tahrir Square, and we found in the tents Molotov cocktails and (drugs)," he said.
Activists on online social networking sites scrambled to organise demonstrations to condemn the military's actions in the wake of the CNN report. Protesters who ousted Mubarak had in part been driven to the street by human rights abuses by police.
"Women were in the front lines in Tahrir. They have always played a role and they deserve for their dignity to be regained," wrote one group of activists on their Facebook page.
(Reporting by Dina Zayed)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

SA security minister's wife goes to jail

rfi South Africa - report - 
Article published the Saturday 07 May 2011 - Latest update : Saturday 07 May 2011

SA security minister's wife goes to jail
Sheryl Cwele and her lawyer Edward Mvuseni Ngubane
By Jean-Jacques Cornish
There’s growing pressure on South Africa’s intelligence minister to quit or be fired after his wife and a Nigerian accomplice were jailed for drug trafficking this week. Opposition politicians say its inconceivable that the country’s top spy did not know what his wife was up to.
Sheryl Cwele, the wife of South Africa's Minister of State Security, was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
She’s been convicted of hiring young women as mules to smuggle cocaine into the country.
Her Nigerian coaccused, Frank Nabolisa, received a similar sentence at the Pietermaritzburg high court in the eastern province of Kwazulu-Natal.
Both have moved to appeal.
Minister Siyabonga Cwele is refusing to comment on the matter until after the appeal.
His wife’s lawyers argue she’s been manipulated by Nabolisa. Opposition parties intensified calls for the minister to resign.
African Christian Democratic party leader Kenneth Meshoe says Cwele has failed the state by not uncovering drug trafficking happening under his nose.
The head of the country's largest trade union federation, Zwelinzima Vavi, says this is the kind of thing that can only happen in a country that is close to becoming a banana republic.
Hennie Van Vuuren of the Institute for Security Studies says Cwele's wife has been implicated in transnational organised crime that took place at the time of his appointment.
If the intelligence services did not know about this, why not? And, if they did and informed President Jacob Zuma, what did he do about it?
tags: Crime - Drugs - Jail - Narcotics - Opposition - Security - South Africa - Spying - Traffic

French minister quits over sexual harassment accusation

Georges Tron at the Elysee Palace - photo 6 January  
Mr Tron is counter-suing his accusers for slander
A French junior minister accused of having sexually harassed staff of a town hall where he is mayor has resigned from the government.
A statement by the prime minister said Civil Service Minister Georges Tron had acted "in the general interest", and noted he denied the allegations.
His resignation comes in the wake of the US arrest of ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn earlier this month.
He is charged with sexually assaulting a chamber maid in a New York hotel.
In the wake of the Strauss-Kahn case, there has been speculation internationally over whether France is prepared to re-examine its strict observance of privacy laws to report scandals affecting politicians.
'Foot massages' A statement on Sunday by Prime Minister Francois Fillon's office said Mr Tron's resignation did not prejudice his case.
"The prime minister, together with the president of the republic, takes note of this decision, which does not in any way prejudice the next steps the justice system will take with regard to the complaints made against Georges Tron, the legitimacy of which he contests," it said.
French prosecutors have opened an investigation into the allegations of harassment, brought by two former municipal employees in the town hall of the Paris suburb of Draveil.

Start Quote

Other women may be suffering what I suffered, I have to help them - we have to break this code of silence”
Alleged victim known as Laura
The two women accuse Mr Tron of molesting them on the pretext of giving them foot massages, when they worked for him, on several occasions between 2007 and 2010.
One said the therapy "degenerated quickly", according to the Associated Press news agency.
"If the facts alleged are established, they could come under the headings of sexual aggression and rape." said prosecutor Marie-Suzanne Le Queau on Wednesday.
One of the women, known only as Laura, told Le Parisien newspaper, said she was inspired to take action by the Strauss-Kahn case.
"When I see that a little chambermaid is capable of taking on Dominique Strauss-Kahn, I tell myself I do not have the right to stay silent," she said.
"Other women may be suffering what I suffered. I have to help them. We have to break this code of silence."
Mr Tron, who is married with three children, denies the allegations, which he has described as "incredible".
He is counter-suing his accusers for slander.
"All of this is grotesque," his lawyer Olivier Schnerb said. "It's a succession of false assertions that are entirely defamatory."
Mr Tron has also attempted to link the case to far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, hinting she was close to the lawyer representing the alleged victims.
Ms Le Pen responded by saying she would sue him for defamation.
"I will not let my reputation be called into question in order to save his," she told French radio on Thursday.

More Europe stories

Saturday, May 28, 2011

YEMEN: Fears of a humanitarian crisis as fighting intensifies


Protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh started in the first week of February and have since intensified
DUBAI, 27 May 2011 (IRIN) - The death toll has risen sharply in the last few days of fighting in the Yemeni capital of Sana'a and hundreds of people have reportedly fled their homes, raising the possibility of a humanitarian crisis, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

"There has been continued shelling in the northwest of the city but there is no evidence yet of large-scale displacement in the city," OCHA deputy head of office Pete Manfield, said. "But the situation could deteriorate into a major humanitarian crisis. At the moment, there is very limited fuel because of a blockade around the city which is starting to significantly affect daily life and activities."

Figures compiled by the UN World Health Organization on 26 May, he added, indicated that 66 people, including a child and a woman, had died while 266 had been injured in the city. Another six reportedly died during clashes in Arhab area close to the airport.

The fighting could also worsen the existing humanitarian situation in the north by reducing access to vulnerable populations including 320,000 internally displaced people, and in the south where 190,000 refugees have been registered. "We have no evidence yet of impact, but the situation remains a complex political and military one with potential humanitarian implications," Manfield added.

Other sources told IRIN long queues had formed at bakeries, banks and petrol stations as residents tried to stock up on cash and food. The power supply, internet and phone services in the city had been disrupted. The USA ordered all non-essential diplomats and embassy family members to leave the country. G8 leaders meeting in France called on the president to quit.

The fighting in the capital comes at a time when conflict in the north is continuing with the Al Houthis taking control of most of  Sa'dah Governorate. Currently, the humanitarian country team is involved in dialogue to try and improve access to populations in need in the north.

The fighters who have reportedly taken control of some buildings in Sana’a, are headed by Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, leader of the Hashid tribal confederation, one of the two main tribal groupings. In the northern Al Hasabah area of the city near the airport, opposition fighters have also set up roadblocks. Shops were closed and some cars belonging to the Interior Ministry staff burnt.

On 25 May, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply troubled" by the continued violent clashes, warning that the confrontation might further destabilize the situation and called for an immediate end to the fighting.

Protests against the 32-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh started in the first week of February and have since intensified. Incidents of violence have taken place frequently leading to deaths. The president insists he will not step down and leave Yemen, telling his supporters on 13 May: "We will encounter defiance with stronger defiance."

The crackdown on demonstrations and absence of agreement in the negotiations between the government and the opposition, analysts say, mean insecurity and instability will continue to increase throughout the country, even in relatively stable governorates like Hadhramaut.

According to Michael Horton of the Jamestown Foundation, frequent use of violence  against demonstrators could also drive Yemenis from a range of political and tribal groups to take up arms against it. If the president leaves, such groups could also turn on one another.

Ginny Hill and Gerd Nonneman of Chatham House, on the other hand, argue that dramatic political change in Yemen could lead to violent upheaval and a humanitarian crisis, given the country's deteriorating economic and security conditions.

Theme (s): Conflict, Early Warning, Economy, Governance, Refugees/IDPs, Security, Urban Risk,
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

Friday, May 27, 2011

Third World, USA

The US is Becoming a Third-World Nation!

Mom Rapes Own Son

Real Mother and Son !

Mom Accused Of Having Sex Nightly With Teen Son

INCEST Grandmother / Grandson having a BABY!


Josef Fritzl:TheDocumentaryPart1

Austria's Elisabeth Fritzl Documentary pt. 2

Austria's Elisabeth Fritzl Documentary pt. 3

Austria's Elisabeth Fritzl Documentary pt. 4

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Australia Human Rights Commission in asylum warning

Fellow detainees grab onto a man and removed a wire he had around his neck after he threatened to jump from a rooftop at the Villawood Detention Center in Sydney (April 2011)  
There has been violent unrest over the past couple of months at Australia's two main detention facilities
Australia's human rights watchdog has called for an end to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers, citing suicides, riots and depression.
The Human Rights Commission report focused on the Villawood detention centre in Sydney.
Some detainees thought often of suicide and self-harm, and some had swallowed detergents and chemicals, it said.
It comes a day after the UN human rights commissioner attacked Australia's tough refugee policies.
Navi Pillay called for an end to mandatory detention and spoke of a "racist" undercurrent in Australia.
She has also been critical of Australian politicians for demonising asylum seekers for domestic political gain.
Violation Australia's Human Rights Commission condemned the treatment of asylum seekers at the Villawood detention centre, noting that their prolonged detention was causing serious mental problems.
It noted that some detainees sewed their lips together in protest at their treatment.
Commission president Catherine Branson said: "What we saw at Villawood was the result of the system of mandatory and indefinite detention, where people can see no end in sight because there is no set time limit on the period a person can be held in detention," she said.

Over the past nine months there have been six deaths in Australia's detention centre network, five of which appeared to be suicide.
In the past six weeks there have also been two major riots, first at the Christmas Island offshore detention centre in the Indian Ocean and then at Villawood in Sydney.
But the Commission's call for an end to mandatory detention is unlikely to happen since the Labor government is sensitive to the opposition charge that it has been soft on border protection - a major issue in Australian politics, says the BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney.
Meanwhile, Australia's Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has defended a controversial deal that will allow asylum seekers arriving by boat to be transferred to Malaysia for processing.
Under the swap deal, up to 800 new boat arrivals to Australia will be relocated to Malaysia; in return, Australia will accept 4,000 people registered refugees living in Malaysia.
Ms Pillay said the proposed deal potentially violates refugee law. Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention.
But Mr Rudd said the plan had backing from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Office of Migration.
"The key thing is we're taking kids out of mandatory detention, we are making sure that processing times are accelerated so that once basic checks are undertaken there is a way through this," he said.
"We are also making sure there are proper and humane conditions."

Australia Asylum Statistics

  • Irregular maritime arrivals (IMAs) in 2010: 134 boats carrying 6,535 people
  • IMAs up to 19 April 2011: 16 boats carrying 921 people
  • As of 20 April 4,552 IMAs detained on the mainland, 1,748 on Christmas Island
 Source: Australian Department of Immigration

More on This Story

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sheriff's deputy, 2 others arrested in Arizona human trafficking bust

By the CNN Wire Staff
May 26, 2011 -- Updated 0544 GMT (1344 HKT)
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said a sheriff's deputy and two detention officers were among 12 arrested Tuesday.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said a sheriff's deputy and two detention officers were among 12 arrested Tuesday.
  • A deputy who was part of a unit targeting human smuggling is accused
  • Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio calls the alleged connections "despicable"
  • A detention officer had $16,000 in her purse when she was arrested, Arpaio says
  • Critics recently called for Arpaio's resignation after a government audit of his agency
For more on this story, see CNN affiliate KTVW
(CNN) -- Authorities in Arizona have arrested three employees of a sheriff's office known for its tough stand on illegal immigration, accusing them of aiding human traffickers and drug smugglers.
A sheriff's deputy and two detention officers were among 12 people arrested in an operation Tuesday, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.
"That a deputy sheriff would provide information and associate with these drug and human traffickers is despicable," Arpaio told reporters.
Deputy Alfredo Navarrette, who had been a member of a unit targeting human smuggling, faces felony charges connected to human smuggling, money laundering and participating in a crime syndicate, Arpaio said.
"He admitted actually going to our command centers to obtain information to pass on to the drug traffickers and the smugglers," Arpaio said, noting that authorities found two illegal immigrants in Navarrette's home when they served a search warrant Tuesday morning.
The two detention officers who were arrested -- Sylvia Najera and Marcella Hernandez -- are accused of money laundering and having connections with drug-trafficking organizations. Hernandez had more than $16,000 in her purse when she was taken into custody, Arpaio said.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery praised the sheriff's office for its handling of the matter and pledged to hold the officers accountable.
"This wasn't swept under the rug. The cooperation that we received from the sheriff's office was complete and forthright," he told reporters.
"No one's above the law, and apparently no one is beyond the reach of drug-trafficking organizations in Mexico," he added.
Arpaio drew national attention and earned the nickname of "America's toughest sheriff" for his stance on illegal immigration, among other things.
Many of his prisoners are housed in tents and forced to wear pink underwear, and he once boasted of feeding them on less than a dollar a day per prisoner.
He faces a U.S. Justice Department investigation into whether his policies cracking down on illegal immigrants discriminate against Hispanics.
Earlier this month critics called for his resignation after an audit found he used nearly $100 million designated for jail funds to pay deputies' salaries.
Some activists said Tuesday's arrests are part of a public-relations ploy to clean up the sheriff's office image in the wake of such accusations.
"Now he's saying that he's cleaning out his department, but frankly, these problems have always existed inside the agency," human rights activist Lydia Guzman told CNN affiliate KTVW.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

LGBT Refugees in UK: the case of Alvin Gahimbaze

For the attention of:
-UK Prime Minister 
-UK Home Office 
-UK Ministry of Justice 
-UK Border Agency 
-UK Immigration Matters 
-Oxford Removal Centre 
-UK Embassy in Italy 
-UK Permanent 
Representation to the EU 
-Italian Ministry 
of Foreign Affairs 
-Human Rights NGOs 
-UKBA Criminal Directorate 

To the special attention of 
-Her Majesty the Queen 
and members of the Royal Family

Copy to:
-UN High Commissioner for Refugees Hon. António Guterres 
-UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 
Navanethem Pillay 
-Members of the European Parliament

Alvin Gahimbaze fled from Burundi with his sister after the slaughter of his family during ethnic clashes between Hutu rebels and the Tutsi minority. Alvin and his sister are Tutsis. He arrived in the United Kingdom in 2000 and immediately applied for refugee status. Alvin has been waiting for his application for refugee status to be accepted since he was 16. He has studied in England and created a life for himself in Bristol with his sister, who is now a British citizen.
Now aged 27, Alvin has still not been granted asylum.On the contrary, after having several requests for asylum turned down, he was imprisoned by the British authorities in the Oxford Removal Centre instead of receiving the protection he is entitled to. Alvin has now been in the detention centre for over five months, living among real criminals and facing the daily threat of deportation. This threat has become psychological torture as every day the young man sees his country men being taken away for deportation. “Will it be my turn tomorrow?” he asks himself day and night. This is pure torture to a fragile person in a delicate mental state. Alvin has repeatedly expressed the need for urgent psychological support, and even attempted suicide at one point. Because not only does Alvin suffer from post-traumatic depression as a result of the tragic events he witnessed during his childhood in Burundi (where his parents and his other relatives were murdered before his very eyes) but in order to avoid the horror of deportation he is forced to experience the humiliation and violation of his privacy in proving to the UK Government his homosexuality. 
This has already been declared publicly with plenty of evidence, including letters from his sister and former partner, which have been sent to the UK Border Agency and top British government figures. Alvin has also given a public interview to the human rights organization EveryOne Group, which can be seen on You Tube at the following link:

Without any feasible reason the young man’s many requests for asylum have been turned down despite the numerous reports written up by humanitarian organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on the abuses perpetrated on LGBT people in Burundi*.
If Alvin were to be deported back to Burundi where he has no relatives or friends to protect him, he would be left to fend for himself, left to a destiny of discrimination and persecution because of his sexual orientation and the fact that he belongs to an ethnic minority that is still being persecuted and harassed.
Alvin has been living a life of total existential instability for the last ten years due to the authorities’ refusal to grant him the asylum he is rightfully entitled to. He is presently locked up in jail like a common criminal,without having committed any crime. He has been tormented by the spectre of a return to Burundi since he was 16, along with the image of his family’s murderers with whom he would come face to face if he were to be deported. When can Alvin finally start to live his life?
There is no explanation why the British authorities have chosen to detain this innocent young man, and why they are insisting on deporting him back to a hostile country,a young man whose only crime is that of being different.In the recent past the United Kingdom showed itself to be a shining example in the respect for fundamental human rights, such as the right to life, individual freedom and dignity, as well as international protection. Instead, Alvin’s ordeal continues (despite the authoritative voices that are working to prevent the British authorities making a terrible mistake) the bureaucracy is going ahead, and, inexplicably, the authorities are trying to justify this abuse.

We urge the UK authorities once again to reconsider young Alvin’s condition as a refugee and persecuted person. We ask them to restore his freedom and offer him a chance to create a new life for himself, enabling him to forget the horror and suffering that has marked his young life so far .

Yours Sincerely,




N.B. Alvin Gahimbaze’s case is being followed by the International Court for Human Rights (Application no.11494/11) and associations and authorities throughout the world, including:
Everyone Group - Dario Picciau, Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro (Co-presidents) - Hon. António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - Graham Watson MEP - Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for South West England and Gibraltar - LGBT South West Greens Party - Ryan Cleminson - Alan DEVE Protection Associate - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR - London) - National Coalition Against Deportation Council (NCADC) - UNHCR - LGBT Asylum News - Turpin Millers LLP ( Solicitors) - Michael Cashman (LGBT Intergroup Chair EU Parliament) - Jean Lambert and Keith Taylor (Green Party MEP's) and others.

*The legal situation regarding gay men in Africa.
by Avert

Anti-gay laws often contradict the constitution of African countries and their commitment to human rights.
Human Rights Watch (2010, 21st May) 'Zambia: Intolerance threatens health, Rights' - - African Union (1981) ‘African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights’ - 
Nevertheless, across the African continent a total of 36 countries out of 53 have laws, as shown below, which make homosexuality a criminal offence. Laws differ markedly both between countries and within countries. Imprisonment is the most common punishment, the term of which can vary dramatically depending on the country or even region; for example from 10 days in Eritrea to a life sentence in Sierra Leone. Other punishments include the death penalty, flogging and imprisonment with hard labour or a fine. The type of punishment and its severity is ruled in accordance with the details of an offence (e.g. public/private act, with a minor, against ‘the will’ of another person, a repeated act, whether the act involved actual intercourse or ‘gross indecency’). In countries that do not have laws against homosexuality, social stigma and discrimination still occur and in some cases men who have sex with men are still subject to arrest for crimes such as vagrancy. 
Imprisonment term
2 months - 2 years
Labour camp
<7 years
3 months - 2 years
5 years
1 year - 5 years
3 months - 3 years
10 days - 7 years
10 days - 15 years
14 years
5 years - 25 years
6 months - 3 years
5 years - 21 years
Common law offence
First degree misdemeanor
<15 years
<14 years
Death by public stoning
or imprisonment
3 months - 2 years
Imprisonment with
hard labour
<5 years
6 months - 3 years
Labour camp
Common law offence
Federal Law: Imprisonment*. 
Sharia Law: Death penalty.
14 years*
São Tomé and Principe
Labour camp
1 year - 5 years
14 years
Sierra Leone
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Penal Code: Imprisonment*.
Sharia Law: (southern region)
Death penalty / flogging.
3 months - 3 years*
Flogging & imprisonment.
[Death penalty or life imprisonment* 
if convicted 3 times]
<14 years - life imprisonment*
Common law offence
1 year - life imprisonment
3 years
3 years
7 years - life imprisonment
5 years - 14 years
<1 year

EveryOne Group
+39 393 4010237 :: +39 331 3343449180 ::