Archive for December 2012
The gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi has brought days of protest, but for women across India the fear of public gropings and even violent assault is a daily reality.
21-12-2012 AP NEW DELHI — It is almost every Indian woman’s nightmare, lived daily when in public — a stream of obscene comments, unwanted hands being placed on them and then being blamed for causing the sexual violence.
The gang rape and beating of a 23-year-old student by six men on a bus in New Delhi may have sparked days of protests and demands for authorities to take tougher action, but for women in India, it is just an extreme example of what they have to live with.
Many in India’s capital and across the country say they are constantly on guard, fearing everything from the routine gropings they suffer on public buses to far more violent assaults. Some say they have structured their entire lives around protecting themselves and their children.
Here are the stories of three women:
Gita Ganeshan, a 52-year-old bank worker, moved to New Delhi with her husband four years ago from the central city of Bhopal to protect their oldest daughter after she was attacked in the Indian capital, where she was studying.
The young woman had been out for a morning walk in a park near her house when four men surrounded her and began tormenting her, Ganeshan said.
“One of the men squeezed her breast. She screamed and kept screaming and running till she came home,” she said.
She said she and her daughter would go to the park when she visited the city.
“This was a park where we would walk every day. The girls would jog or run and we would walk along,” she said. “Just that one day, she went alone and this happened, and it changed our outlook as far as the safety of our girls was concerned.”
Her daughter gave up jogging and wouldn’t leave the house alone for months. Her parents got themselves transferred to the city to look after her.
“That was when we decided that protecting our children had to be our first priority. We’ve given them a good education. We cannot now tell them not to pursue their careers because it is not safe to be out working late,” she said.
She has trained the young woman to be alert: “Never let your guard down.”
Now, Ganeshan is thinking of moving to the central city of Indore to protect her younger daughter, who got a job there.
But for now, she has arranged a special plan to watch over her from far away.
Every evening, her daughter calls as soon as she gets off the bus on her way home from work. The two talk for the next 15 minutes while the young woman walks more than half a mile to her home, Ganeshan said.
“Every day, I wake up and my first thought is of my daughters and their safety. I call them up, or they call me,” she said. “It is a real fear we confront when, even for a few hours, we are not in touch over the telephone.”
Sandhya Jadon, 26, a lawyer from the northern town of Agra, said the harassment starts as soon as she leaves her home.
“For most men, any woman who is out of the four walls of her house is fair game,” she said.
Last week, she was repeatedly groped on a public minibus.
“It was broad daylight. I was heading to court, and this man kept trying to touch my thigh. I shouted at him and he had the gall to ask me, ‘So what can you do to stop me?'” she said.
She shouted, made the driver stop and got off. But the man continued sitting in the bus, grinning at his own audacity. Not one of the 10 other passengers came to her help. Most looked away, she said.
“All day that day I was disturbed. I was shaking inside but also angry. Why do we women have to suffer this?” she asked.
For the next few days, she avoided public buses for fear she would run into the man again.
She feels relatively safe at court, in her lawyer’s robes. But she still doesn’t stay late at work and asks her parents to meet her at the bus stop to walk her home.
“But the fear — that something bad will happen if you are not careful — is always with you. It hangs over your work; it hangs over everything you do — what you wear, or don’t wear, how you talk or how you walk. It is like this big suffocating cloud hanging over you every single day of your life,” she said.
Priyanka Khatri, a 21-year-old college student, said fear of attack has forced her to limit her world.
There are no movies in the evening, no late-night parties, no outside activity at all after sundown. College events are cut short because she has to get home.
“Whatever happens, I have to be home before dark. Otherwise, my parents get so worried and they will keep calling me on my cell phone till they know I’m safe,” she said.
Khatri said she will only go out in the evening accompanied by her parents to a nearby temple or a family wedding.
She is shadowed by fear when she gets dressed in the morning.
“I wouldn’t dream of wearing shorts or skirts in public,” she said.
She is petrified by her daily commute to school on public buses.
“Usually I carry a safety pin with me, because in buses there are always men who will try to touch you,” Khatri said. “Some men are so brazen. You tick them off and they will persist on groping you. Then you feel you have to do something. So I stick my pin into them, or I use my elbow, and just jab them with my elbow. But that too makes you afraid.”
And she has tempered her dreams to fit the reality of life in Delhi. The outgoing badminton enthusiast longed to be an event planner. Instead, she is looking for teaching jobs, “because then I can be home before dark.”
If her precautions fail and she is attacked, Khatri has a backup plan, she said.
“I will scream. I always have a scream.”
21-12-2012 MINGORA, Pakistan (AP) — A 15-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for promoting girls’ education has urged Pakistan to reverse a decision to rename a college in her honor to avert militant attacks on students, an official said Friday.
Malala Yousufzai, who became a symbol of youth resistance to the Taliban, made the request after students broke into the school, tore down Malala’s pictures and boycotted classes in her home town of Mingora. They said renaming the college endangered their lives.
Senior government official Kamran Rehman said Malala called him from London, where she was being treated for critical wounds from the attack on Oct. 9. The Taliban said it targeted her for promoting education for secular girls.
Malala’s case won worldwide recognition for the struggle for women’s rights in Pakistan and Taliban have vowed to target her again.
Pakistani Taliban have a strong presence in the country’s tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.
A bomb ripped through the office of a local militant commander Maulvi Abbas in Wana, a main town in the South Waziristan tribal region in the northwest, killing him and three of his guards, two intelligence officials said Friday.
Abbas was an associate of Hakimullah Mehsud, the head of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan militant group, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.
It was unclear who had planted the bomb. The attack came weeks after a suicide bomber in the same town attacked Maulvi Nazir, a prominent militant commander who is believed to have a nonaggression pact with the army.
Nazir was wounded in the attack, and seven of his men were killed.
Since then there has been tension between followers of Nazir and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in the region.
PHNOM PENH, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) — Cambodia has removed and destroyed some 3 million mines and unexploded ordnances in the last two decades and the country will completely eliminate landmines in the next 10 years, a senior official said Friday.
Heng Ratana, director general of Cambodian Mine Action Center ( CMAC), said that since 1992 to date, the center has cleared some 2. 5 million mines and unexploded ordnances and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and non-governmental organizations have removed about 500,000 mines.
“We set the target to clear all types of landmines from Cambodia in the next 10 years,” he said, adding that to realize this goal, the country needs an estimated 30 million U.S. dollars a year.
The Southeast Asian nation is one of the world’s worst countries affected by mines as the result of almost three decades of war and internal conflicts from the mid-1960s until the end of 1998.
The five most mine-laid provinces are Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Pailin and Preah Vihear.
According to the record of Cambodian Mine and Explosive Remnants of War Victim Information System, from 1979 to Oct. 2012, landmines had killed 19,660 people and injured or amputated 44,519 others.
21=12=2012 PHNOM PENH (The Cambodia Herald) – The opposition Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party have denied losing thousands of members to Funcinpec.
The denials came after Funcinpec President Nhiek Bun Chhay said at least 5,000 opposition party members had joined the royalist party.
The defections took place in Kampong Cham, Bantey Meanchey, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampot, Kandal, Takeo, Kampong Thom and Prey Veng provinces, he said.
“The people who joined the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties have came back,” the Funcinpec president said.
Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann dismissed the claim, saying people would not leave a strong party for a weak one.
Human Rights Party spokesman Ou Chanrith agreed. “I don’t believe people would join Funcinpec which is a partner of the ruling party,” he said.
“Funcinpec used to win votes but they are now lost so people will go for those parties that win the vote.”
Phnompenhpost 21=12=2012 Lara Croft could have used one of these.
A new interactive guide to Angkor Wat for iPads has been made available by the cultural protection NGO Heritage Watch.
An Interactive Guide to Angkor,” sold at Apple’s iTunes store, was writtened by archaeologist and Heritage Watch director Dr Dougald O’Reilly, and features narration by Southeast Asian studies scholar Charles Higham.
“It’s inspired by one of the most inspirational places in the world,” said O’Reilly. O’Reilly, who lived in Cambodia for seven years beginning in 1999, started Heritage Watch in 2003 in a bid to help combat looting and conserve Cambodia’s archaeological legacy.
“Angkor is an incredibly inspirational place,” said O’Reilly. “Every time I drive through the gates of Angkor Thom, I can’t really express it, but the grandeur and the magnificence of the gates and enigmatic faces are just incredible.”
The app features maps, pop-up information boxes, photographs, and an audio guide. Users are also treated to information and stories about Khmer mythology, Hindu religion and the temples’ history and significance.
“There’s just a lot of exciting new features available,” said O’Reilly. “It makes for a more dynamic user experience, rather than just having the audio.”
O’Reilly said he hoped that the app would generate significant funds for Heritage Watch. “It’s hard to find revenue and profits to support heritage conservation in Cambodia,” he said. “There are very few grants available that heritage organisations can access.” O’Reilly himself does not receive a salary from his organisation.
Phnompenhpost 21-12-2012 Invoking a rule concerning the transparency of proceedings at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, newly appointed International Co-Investigating Judge Mark Harmon has released a list of 14 crime sites now under investigation in government-opposed Case 004.
Security centres and prisons, work sites and execution sites in Battambang, Pursat, Takeo, Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham provinces are among the sites listed in the case against former zone leaders Im Chaem, Ta An and Ta Tith. Many of the crime sites relate to the brutal treatment of the Khmer Krom.
The statement is the first public notice made by the international judge since he took up the post two months ago.
Allegations of political interference into the investigations of cases 003 and 004 have marred the court since the start.
Repeatedly and vocally, top government officials have made it clear they oppose the cases, saying prosecutions of mid-level cadres could spark civil war. Harmon’s two predecessors quit the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges amid claims of political interference and the cases have moved forward only in fits and starts.
The newest list expands upon the Case 004 crime sites begrudgingly released by the office in 2011 under public pressure from the prosecutors. Citing misinformation spread by the media, Bunleng and his then-international counterpart, Judge Siegfried Blunk, issued a list of 30 sites but stressed that there were “serious doubts” over the case’s legality.
Harmon’s list, however, shies away from such language, and, perhaps tellingly, cites the same rule his beleaguered predecessor, Judge Laurent Kasper-Ansermet, invoked as a workaround that allowed him to issue statements without the approval of his national counterpart. Yesterday’s statement is issued only in the name of the international co-investigating judge and does not bear the approval of Harmon’s national counterpart, Judge You Bunleng.
“I’m not surprised that it has come to the point of him having to take action on his own,” said Clair Duffy, a tribunal monitor at Open Society Justice Initiative.
“You only have to look at the history of these cases to see that You Bunleng has resisted every step of the way, since the days of [the first international co-investigating judge, Marcel] Lemonde. I don’t know of any recent developments that would indicate the government had changed its views about cases 003 and 004. And given what we have alleged repeatedly, that every Cambodian decision-maker in the court is under the government’s thumb on cases, I don’t see his position being any different now.”
Neither Bunleng nor Harmon could be reached for comment yesterday.
Senior Assistant Prosecutor Dale Lysak said yesterday he found it heartening that Harmon released the list without requests or prodding from the prosecution. “Obviously, I see this as a pretty positive development,” he said. “So far, things seem to be moving along and making progress. I haven’t seen any of the problems that seem to have been going on with the last few judges. It’s still early, but it seems to be moving forward.”
The inclusion of the Khmer Krom crime sites that prosecutors requested investigated in June 2011 represented a major development for the tribunal, he added. “Corroboration that crimes against the Khmer Krom are going to be investigated is quite important,” said Lysak.
Prosecutors and civil party lawyers maintain that genocide charges should be levied on those responsible for crimes against the Khmer Krom, an ethnic minority targeted by the Khmer Rouge and subjected to uniquely atrocious treatment.
Calling Harmon’s statement “a good first step forward”, civil party lawyer Silke Studzinsky stressed that significant outreach efforts still had to be undertaken or the apparent movement in the case would have little impact on victims.
“The publication on the homepage of the court does not reach many Cambodians. Only very few Cambodians have access to the internet,” she pointed out.
Declining to share details, court spokeswoman Yuko Maeda said further efforts to inform victims and civil parties of the new crime sites – thus allowing them to participate in the case – were under way.