Recent Resources for Feminists
Issue 984 - Wednesday, October 16, 2013
1. Afghanistan: Violence against women on the rise
By Lynette J. Dumble
Scroll down to also read related items:
- 2. Report on VAW in Afghanistan by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission
- 3 Is Afghanistan heading towards a society without women? by Carol Mann
- 4. We Are Not Afraid Of Death: Lieutenant Nigar's last interview before her assassination with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
- 5. Trailblazing Afghan Female MP, Noorzia Atmar, Forced to take Shelter also via Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
- 6. Amnesty International Australia reporting that Afghanistan's 2009 enacted Elimination of Violence against Women law is still not fully implemented, while some have attempted to scrap the law altogether
Afghan women raise banners during a march to protest violence against women in Kabul on September 24, 2012. Rashida Manjoo, the expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council with investigating and reporting on violence against women recently stated that “The failure of States to guarantee women’s rights to a life free from violence allows for a continuum of violence which can end in their death."
Back in October 2001, the US-led invasion of Afghanistan adopted an humanitarian face, professing that the defeat of the Taliban would rid girls and women of an infamously cruel brand of misogyny.
But the Taliban’s violent oppression was not alone in denying the country’s females of their basic right to education, health, inheritance, and physical and emotional safety inside and outside of their homes.
Deep-rooted tribal traditions, including the practice known as baad whereby young girls are traded as a commodity to compensate for crimes committed by their elders, have contributed to the suffering endured by Afghan females. So too have the well-documented crimes of warlords, and the abduction, rape and murder of young girls.
Twelve years down the track, Afghan girls and women are facing an upsurge of atrocities which fill their minds and hearts with terror.
Last year, 2320 cases of violence against women and girls were registered with the Ministry of Women Affairs from 33 provinces.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, however, argues that the national figure of reported incidents of violence against women and girls across the country actually reached 4500 last year.
Back in 2009, the Afghan government approved an Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) Law that criminalises child marriage, forced marriage, the selling and buying of women under the pretext of marriage, giving females away to settle disputes, forced self-immolation and various other acts of violence against women.
However, Ingibjorg Gisladottir, director of UN Women in Afghanistan, expressed concern that only a small percentage of cases under the law involved violence against women. Most such cases were neither registered nor investigated.
A joint investigation convened by the Independent Media Consortium Productions this year found there has been a dramatic rise in crimes against women, ranging from extreme domestic violence, to sexual assault and murder, to their increasing commodification in baad settlements.
As evidence of the spiralling violence, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission reported that, compared with 89 cases of rape and murder in 2011, the number had escalated to 200 cases in the first nine months of last year.
Despite improved reporting rates, little to no progress has emerged with conviction rates.
In 40% of rape-murder cases, the accused have escaped without any degree of investigation.
In instances where police probes were undertaken, the suspects, more often than not with political clout, successfully bribed their way free.
As a case in point, 16-year-old Shakila was raped and fatally wounded with two bullets from a Kalashnikov gun in January last year in the home of Mohammad Hadi Wahidi Beheshti.
A member of Bamyan Provincial Council, Beheshti was present in the house when the incident occurred, but prior to notifying authorities of Shakila's death he disposed of her dead body at the local hospital.
By the time investigating police arrived at the scene, Beheshti had returned home to remove evidence of the incident. He accused his body guard Qurban, who was also Shakila‘s brother-in-law, of the crime.
Qurban was charged and faced trial, but was able to provide reliable witnesses confirming his alibi.
Beheshti became the main suspect, but escaped prosecution with a new story claiming that Shakila's death was a suicide. His second story, a fantasy in light of the forensic evidence of Shakila's rape and murder, was supported by his brother Fokori Beheshti, a member of parliament.
Flawed police investigations, including the failure to finger print Beheshti for comparison with those found on the murder weapon, led the penal division of the local court of Bamyan to shelve the case in May last year.
But, in light of emerging evidence incriminating Beheshti, the court recommended that a new investigation should be undertaken.
Typically, until August this year, and in the absence of any other suspect, Beheshti has not faced a single interrogation. As a result, a murdering rapist, whoever it truly is, enjoys impunity, while a poverty-stricken family devoid of political influence is deprived of justice for the brutal death of their 16-year-old daughter.
Latifa Sultani, the women’s rights program coordinator at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, believes that such latitude is a key reason for the rising sexual aggression towards, and the subsequent killing of, girls and women.
Nafisa Azimi, a social and health professional and member of the Parliamentary Commission on Women’s Affairs, agrees, stating that the failure to prosecute the accused has contributed to the rise in violence against women.
Mohammad Bakhsh, father of slain rape victim Shakila, has written in vain to Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, requesting an end to the impunity accorded the country’s politically well-connected rape and murder suspects.
Similarly, back in 2012, Ingibjorg Gisladottir had urged the Government to take the lead in ensuring that the EVAW law was fully implemented, stressing the prime importance of both ending the culture of impunity that prevails in Afghanistan and punishing the perpetrators of violence against women for their crimes.
In the interests of justice and human rights, it is past nigh for President Karzai to heed the calls of a grieving parent, and UN Women‘s representative in Afghanistan.
[Dr Lynette J. Dumble is the founder and director of The Global Sisterhood Network.]
~ December 2012
2. Violence Against Women In Afghanistan
By Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission
Although there have been significant improvements in women rights issues, observations and findings from field research carried out by the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) are alarming. More than 3’000 instancesof violence were registered by AIHRC in the first six months of the current Afghan year, which began on March 21, 2012 (hereafter, referred to as current year).However, the massive amount of cases is not only indicating widespread violence against women, but also manifesting a greater awareness of women’s rights that led to more reported cases and instances.
Violence against women is considered a widespread and undeniable reality in Afghanistan’s society.The present report covers different types of violence against women in the first 6 months of the current year. Besides statistical information the report also presents illustrative cases of violence that tell a horrendous reality.
3331 instances of violence were recorded and classified into four different types of violence, namely physical, verbal and psychological, economic and sexual violence. Some of the instances could not been assigned to one of these types and were regrouped under the category ‘other instances of violence’. The data shows that 1051 individuals have experienced violence in the covered 6 months; all of them experienced at least 2 types of violence. The gap between the number of victims and instances is, hence, due to the fact that in many cases a woman has experienced more than one particular kind of violence. Despite tremendous efforts by the AIHRC the presented data still underestimates the real number of cases of violence against women. This is due to various reasons that are often in relation to harmful traditional practices and, in particular, women’s fear to face continued violence when reporting the acts of violence.
Read full report: HERE
~ September 15 2013
3. Is Afghanistan heading towards a society without women?
By Carol Mann
Afghanistan is experiencing a spate of assassinations and kidnappings of women in a context of spiralling violence. So-called “honour killings” hardly make the news, nor do the countless deaths of child brides, teenage mothers in labour, or young girls who set themselves alight to escape marital brutality. But now a specific category is being targeted: women who have achieved a high level of education, respectability and recognition and whose fate will be commented in the media. Policewomen, social and medical workers, civil servants, parlementarians, journalists even a prominent Indian writer. Certainly this is not new, but what was (relatively) exceptional has turned into a deliberate tactic designed to terrorize ambitious girls and their families throughout the country. These are truly political assassinations.
The killers are generally called ‘Taliban’ by Western media, an umbrella term designating political Islamists who support a peculiarly biased reading of Muslim holy texts that specifically excludes women from any form of visibility and participation in society. These don’t just include the stereotypical bearded and beturbaned militants, but zealots of a modern kind, in Armani suits or slicked back hair and tight jeans fiddling with their smartphones. Whilst not sharing an identical agenda concerning Afghanistan’s future, these ideologues agree about the place (or rather lack thereof) women should occupy in their social project.
Let us imagine a society where such ideologies triumph (which is not excluded in view of the West’s negotiations with Taliban and their look-alike), a society without women, one that is deprived of 50% of its brains, capacities and potential. Gone would be the primary school teachers, nurses, police officers, provincial civil servants, – not to be replaced by male counterparts who neither have the qualifications nor the desire to work in these fields.
So public health, education- for boys as well as girls, not to mention unborn children- will plummet as it had in Mollah Omar’s day. Safety, security, the daily running of administration would flounder.
Furthermore, with the expanding economy of the last decade, new needs and standards have developed. Who in Afghanistan is still willing to be without a mobile phone or a TV, access to electricity? Much of these new-found material comforts have been contributed by income generated by women for their households. Apart from the traditional jobs linked to health and education, the many openings available for educated young women especially if they are fluent in English, are well-paid and indeed sought after. With all the young men rushing to Kabul to find work, there are many employment possibilities in the administration of the provinces open to women who tend to stay close to home base.
In short in a society where one half of the population could be excluded from the public sphere, the result can only be abysmal failure, misery and war. Let’s hope that the younger generation of Afghans realize that equal rights benefit men as much as women. The alternative would be disastrous.
September 16, 2013
4. "We Are Not Afraid Of Death:" Lieutenant Nigar's Last Interview With RFE/RL
Helmand police officer Lieutenant Nigar in an undated courtesy photo.
In July, Lieutenant Nigar (one name only) became the highest-ranking woman police officer in Afghanistan's ultraconservative Helmand Province when her predecessor in that position was assassinated.
In the days after Islam Bibi's killing, Nigar discussed the importance of Afghan women participating in the effort to establish security and shrugged off the dangers as being part of the job.
On September 15, Nigar was also killed after being shot by unknown attackers. Here are some excerpts from her early July interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan.
On the killing of Islam Bibi, her predecessor as the highest-ranking female police officer in Helmand Province:
"This is Afghanistan. Fighting has been going on for 30 years in this country. [Dangerous things] happen. Either you die or live on. We are not afraid of death."
On the recruitment of women into Afghanistan's police forces:
"My message to everyone is to come join the women's police forces. We are human beings and deadly attacks can happen. There shouldn't be any problems."
On the importance of having women officers present during house searches:
"Without the accompaniment of women, our police and the army cannot do anything. Women are needed, and they shouldn't be scared [to join]. We should take pride in the fact that our people are happy with the work we do and they thank God that we women police exist."
On the role women play in establishing trust with locals during search operations:
“Sometimes people are terrified when police enter their homes. I take off my veil and keep telling them, 'Don't be scared, we are women police.' We introduce ourselves to women and conduct our search operation and I find that they are very happy and satisfied with us."
July 21, 2013
5. Trailblazing Afghan Female MP Forced To Take Shelter
Noorzia Atmar, a former rights campaigner and lawmaker in the national parliament, has gone into hiding since she was stabbed and threatened by her former husband.
By Frud Bezhan and Fareba Wahidi
Noorzia Atmar is the human face of women's rights in Afghanistan, her unbridled and open enthusiasm now bruised and sheltered from the public eye.
As one of the country's first female lawmakers, she was a vocal and active force in carving out a bigger role for women in a society that had suffered for years under the hard-line rule of the Taliban.
Today her voice has been muted, and her existence in a home for battered women epitomizes the rapid unraveling of what advancements had been made.
Shortly after losing her place in the national parliament, Atmar ran into trouble at home. After divorcing her abusive husband, she was spurned by her own family and forced to seek refuge in a discreetly located shelter in Kabul for abused women and girls.
The 40-year-old's plight has cast a spotlight on the erosion of women's rights that has sped up just as international troops prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014. As international scrutiny has waned, powerful religious and conservative circles have taken steps to undermine women's rights.
In the past decade, women have made significant inroads in Afghan society, with millions of girls attending school and women entering the workforce, including in the country's political realm. Yet despite the progress, domestic abuse is routine, forced marriages are the norm, and female suicide rates in Afghanistan remain among the highest in the world.
Shame And Duty
Atmar says her husband, Toryalai Malakzai, initially seemed open-minded about her political ambitions. The couple married in 2010, while Atmar was vying for reelection as a member of parliament from the eastern province of Nangarhar. But soon after she failed to win reelection she was confined to her home, and on the rare occasions she was allowed to venture outside, her husband forced her to wear an all-covering burqa.
Atmar fled home after Malakzai stabbed her and threatened to kill her six months ago.
"I was the victim of abuse. I had a very bitter life while I was with that man," Atmar says. "He was getting drunk and hitting me every day. That was his routine. It reached the point where he threw a knife and other sharp objects at me. [That's why] I'm currently in a women's shelter."
Atmar, who has lived in the shelter for several months, says that after fleeing from her husband she turned to her family for help. But she says her parents ordered her to return to her husband. She returned, but not for long. Atmar soon filed for divorce and left for the women’s shelter.
It was then, Atmar says, that her family disowned her.
"My family had one disagreement with me. They said divorce was a shameful thing and I shouldn't do it," Atmar says. "I have the feeling that my own family hated me. When my name is mentioned at social gatherings, my family curses me. This has been particularly hurtful."
Shelters Under Siege
Atmar now commutes between the shelter and her job in a vehicle provided by the government, for which she works as an adviser. She says she fears becoming the victim of a so-called honor killing carried out by her husband or her own family.
She does not know how long she will stay at the shelter, whose existence has been the source of controversy in Afghanistan. The country's independently run and funded women's shelters, once a symbol of women's progress, have been described by conservative lawmakers as "brothels."
In 2011, Afghan President Hamid Karzai attempted to bring the shelters under government control. A draft law that was abandoned following a flurry of Western media attention would have required women to obtain government approval and even virginity tests before they would be granted access to shelters.
Atmar, a former journalist, says shelters for abused women must remain open for women who would otherwise be forced to fend for themselves on the streets.
"I'm worried that if these shelters close, my sisters [Afghan women] and I who have suffered from domestic violence won't have anywhere to go. This is our worry," Atmar says. "If a woman has had her arm or leg broken or has had her nose or ears cut off, should we throw them on the street? In the current situation in Afghanistan the shelters are the only places of refuge for women."
Atmar's own plight comes as a string of controversies threaten to undo progress on women's rights in the country.
Afghanistan's lower house of parliament has proposed revisions to the criminal code that would effectively reverse measures designed to protect women from domestic violence. Those proposed changes, to the criminal procedure code, would prohibit a criminal defendant's relatives from being questioned as witnesses for the prosecution. If the provision became law, it would effectively silence victims and their family members.
In addition, the upper house of parliament is currently debating a revised electoral law whose draft text omits passages -- enshrined at the urging of the international community -- that set aside 25 percent of the seats on provincial and district councils for women. That draft has already been passed by the lower house of parliament and, if enforced would essentially deprive women of posts in parliament and in government at the provincial and local levels, where conservative and male-dominated elements tend to prevail.
That came after lawmakers in May halted indefinitely a debate on legislation outlawing rape and forced marriages. Female lawmakers had wanted to cement the law -- passed by a presidential decree in 2009 -- through a parliamentary vote. But it received stiff opposition from conservatives, who have threatened to scrap it.
In what appears to be a response to recent developments, Western nations and aid organizations have moved to reaffirm their commitment to protecting women's rights in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a program with an aim to educate, train, and empower at least 75,000 women between the ages of 18 and 30. USAID says that the goal of the five-year program is to strengthen women's rights groups, increase female participation in the economy, and raise the number of women in decision-making positions in government.
The United States is providing nearly $200 million for the program, with another $200 million expected to come from international donors.
17 September 2013
6. Australia must champion Afghan women’s rights, after killing of prominent woman in Afghanistan
Yesterday’s killing of one of Afghanistan’s most senior woman police officers is another tragic reminder of the urgent need to advocate for the rights of Afghan women during discussions about the UN mandate in Afghanistan (ISAF), said Amnesty International.
In its role as President of the UN Security Council, and for the remainder of its term on the Security Council, Australia should prioritise the protection of civilians and the promotion of human rights of Afghan women, men and children.
Lieutenant Negar, 38, died on Monday morning in hospital after two unidentified gunmen on a motorbike shot her in the neck on Sunday near police headquarters in Lashkar Gah, the capital of restive Helmand province. She had been an outspoken advocate for the protection of women who challenge the use of violence against women and girls.
Other women in the public eye – including her predecessor, an Indian writer and two representatives of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs – have been killed in Afghanistan in the last year, and a woman MP was recently held hostage by the Taliban.
“Women’s rights have come a long way in recent years, and may have reached a tipping point. There are more women in positions of authority, increased access to education, and welcome new laws to protect women and girls from violence. But as Afghan women gain voice and power, they face new and increasing threats. Some defenders of women’s rights say they are once again beginning to self-censor, fearing new reprisals,” said Polly Truscott, Deputy Asia Pacific Programme Director at Amnesty International.
“At the same time we fear that Afghan and foreign leaders are becoming inured to sheer numbers of attacks on high-profile women, combined with the every day violence against women and girls, but there is so much more that can be done to protect and promote women’s rights in Afghanistan.”
President Karzai passed the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) law by decree in 2009. However, not only are many of its provisions still not fully implemented, but since then some have attempted to scrap the law altogether.
“The Afghan authorities must do everything in their power, with international assistance, to protect women’s rights,” said Truscott.
“This must include the full implementation of the 2009 law to eliminate violence against women, and the training of authorities at all levels to ensure it affects public policy in practice.”
According to Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, in recent years, violence against women “is a widespread and ever increasing phenomenon” across the country.
For well over a year, there have been many reported cases of beatings, kidnappings and killings of women and girls across Afghanistan – particularly in rural areas.
Women and girls are attacked by their partners, relatives, some security personnel, and armed groups, including the Taliban, sometimes in broad daylight.
“Violent crimes against all women, including the shooting of Lieutenant Negar must be swiftly and fully investigated, and whoever is responsible brought to justice in fair trials and without the death penalty,” said Truscott.
Thursday October 10, 2013
Feticide and dowry real killers of women in western Uttar Pradesh
By Ashish Tripathi, TNN
LUCKNOW: The threat to bahu-betis (women) in west UP is actually from their families, not from 'Love Jihad', a term coined by right wing groups to describe a holy war waged by Muslim boys to trap and convert Hindu women.
Love Jihad is said to be one of the factors that has provoked communal passions in the area for the past one year, eventually triggering the blood bath, killing 62 innocents and turning over 50,000 refugees in their homeland. The starting point was the killing of three youth at Kawal village in Muzaffarnagar over harassment of girls. Even after riots, every incident of harassment of a Hindu girl involving Muslims, even with a remote link, is hyped up as Love Jihad.
But, there is no evidence to support the Love Jihad theory but female foeticide, poor maternal care and dowry, together kill one bahu/beti every four minutes in these areas.
In the past 10 years, almost all major political parties have ruled UP but, no movement or campaign, as the one which stoked communal flare-up, has been witnessed to address the real threat, which has now acquired monstrous proportions.
Sample this: Every day, foeticide kills 330 unborn girls in UP, poor maternal health 46 women and dowry six women-total 382 per day. This amounts to one killing per four minutes. The same applies to west UP.
Several government and non-government studies, including one by United Nation Population Fund, have revealed that the female foeticide is rampant in UP and the situation is worse in the western parts. The studies gain credence from the rising number of ultrasound and in-vitro fertilisation centres and decline in child sex ratio (number of girls against 1000 boys in 0-6 age group).
While the centres where sex determination can be done have increased in UP from 400 in 2001 to over 5,000 in 2013, the CSR has declined from 916 in 2001 Census to 902 in 2011, a 14-point drop. This means, in UP, only 902 girls take birth and survive till six years against 1,000 boys.
The national CSR is 919 and natural 945. This means in the past six years 7.2 lakh female foetuses were killed, which comes to 1.20 lakh every year, 10,000 every month and 330 daily.
The west UP, particularly the riot-hit area, has lowest CSRs in the state and have earned the dubious distinction of being called as 'killing fields for unborn girl child'. The CSR of Muzaffarnagar, for instance, is 863, which means 82 girls less than normal ratio. Similarly, the number of 'missing' girls in Meerut is 91, Baghpat 104, Bijnor 62 and Saharanpur 58.
"The betis are losing right to take birth and life because of highly patriarchal mindset which prefers boys over girls," said gynecologist-turned-activist Dr Neelam Singh, also member of several national bodies formed under the PCPNDT Act to check female foeticide. "The skewed sex ratio also reflects in the child population in Census 2011. The number of boys in 0-6 age group is 1.56 crore, whereas girls 1.40 crore (total 2.96 crore)," she added.
Dr Singh warned "The imbalance may lead to dangerous social and economic repercussions. Studies have revealed that it is a major factor for the rise in sex crime against women. Already, bride-buying has started as girls are not available for marriage in some west UP districts."
The warning does not seem misplaced. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, rape cases doubled in UP from 911 in 2003 to 1963 in 2012. Of 1963, in one third (679) offenders were close family members, relatives or neighbours. Similarly, molestation increased by three times from 1098 in 2003 to 7661 in 2012.
If betis are being massacred, bahus are not safe either. The NCRB data shows around 187 bahus are being killed every month for dowry in UP. Dowry deaths in 2003 were 1322, which increased to 2244 in 2012, a 70% rise. And, the cases of cruelty by husbands increased by 2.5 times from 2626 in 2003 to 7661 in 2012.
UP ranks first in the country in dowry deaths and third in cruelty by husbands. The situation in western parts is no better. In 2012, around 108 cases of dowry deaths and cruelty were reported every month from the six districts (Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Bijnor, Saharanpur, Baghpat and Shamli)."Such crimes are reported from all communities and there is nothing substantial to suggest that one is targeting the other," said a senior police officer.
When bahu and betis are under threat, how can mothers be secure? According to the latest Annual Health Survey the maternal mortality ratio of UP is 300, among highest in the country. In comparison India's MMR is 212. The MMR is the number of women who die during pregnancy and childbirth, per 100,000 live births. This means every year 16,500 mothers die in UP while giving birth to their child, which amounts to 46 deaths per day. And, the average MMR of Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Meerut, Baghpat and Bijnor is 240, which amounts to 1,100 maternal deaths every month and 37 per day.
While madness continues, said Rakesh Rana, a Bijnor-based activist, instead of sensitising people against social ills, which is their duty in a democracy, the political parties and the government are exploiting patriarchal mindset and indulging in communal politics for electoral gains.
Sunday October 13, 2013
Every grain of sand
By Kaavya Pradeep Kumar
Jazeera V., with her children, protesting against illegal sand mining in Kerala, at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. (The Hindu File Photo)
“If there’s a nexus working that wants the blatant exploitation to thrive, it has to be met with equal force”
She calls herself a ‘daughter of the sea’. It’s not a borrowed label, but one that Jazeera Vadakkan believes in with passionate conviction. She builds literal ties to the description, “I was born at home, right on the Neerozhukkumchal Beach in Kannur (north Kerala).”
Clad in a burqa, surrounded by her three children, Jazeera makes an unlikely sight on the pavement outside Kerala House in New Delhi. As unlikely as when she was protesting outside the Secretariat in Tiruvananthapuram in her home state. But this is no home-maker accidentally caught up in the public sphere. Get closer and you will see that she is conviction personified.
Jazeera’s is a lonely battle, but she is the face of an amazingly courageous defiance against the all-powerful sand mafia that rules the coastal hamlet where she was born. Her zeal is in many ways incredible. Her battle is not built on academic research or environmental laws. It is a personal and intuitive battle. Returning to her village a short while after her marriage she found the landscape virtually unrecognisable, altered by the relentless mining of sand. “Why is it so difficult to see? If the miners can inflict so much damage on one beach in a few months, what will we have left to pass on to our children’s generations?” she asks.
The 31-year-old has been threatened countless times and even physically assaulted. But nothing seems to dent her mission to prevent even a grain of sand being shifted from ‘her’ beach. As she says, the sand being removed in tonnes to building sites has caused severe damage to Kerala’s fragile coastline.
Criticism of Jazeera, an auto driver by profession, ranges from dismissing her as a fake seeking media attention to vilifying her as an irresponsible mother and wife. She protests with her three children in tow, the youngest barely two. When Jazeera moved base from her hometown to the Kerala capital in August this year, her children came along. Her husband, Abdul Salaam, a madrassa teacher in Kochi, is not with her but is a source of support, she says.
The unending monsoon, the harsh heat wave, the criticism, the threats nothing seems to affect Jazeera and her children. They had become permanent fixtures near the north gate of the Secretariat building. A huge demonstration organised by the Left Front had even veteran vendors a little worried because of the sheer numbers. But not Jazeera, who refused to budge. Her two girls, Rizwana and Shifana, seemed more preoccupied by their colouring books than the crowds and red flags all around.
Finally, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy met her on the third day of her protest. He promised her that action would be taken, but Jazeera wanted a written statement. When this did not happen, Jazeera went to Delhi. “There are laws that prohibit this sort of activity. But when the local people, the police, local leaders are all part of a nexus that wants the blatant exploitation to thrive, it has to be met with equal force,” she says.
None of the attempts to frighten her into going back to her hamlet have worked so far. Jazeera continues to protest, asking for a written assurance from the Kerala government to rein in the sand miners, something the authorities have strangely refused so far. Here is one woman fighting organised mafia, but with enough courage to beat the odds.
-UK ~ Tuesday October 7 2013
The Scapegoating of Amanda Hutton By Jennifer Drew
UK’s malestream media has avidly sensationalised the trial of Amanda Hutton who has just been convicted of manslaughter by gross neglect whereby she deliberately starved her 4 year old son to death.
Malestream media printed graphic details of Amanda Hutton’s supposedly ‘sordid lifestyle’ because not only is she addicted to drugs and alcohol but she supposedly made the informed decision to starve her son to death. The fact Ms. Hutton was subjected to physical violence by her ex male partner Aftab Khan, who was subsequently convicted of assaulting Ms. Hutton, was conveniently ignored by malestream media. This case was an ideal one in malestream’s endless propaganda war on women, because the female defendant was supposedly epitome of everything ‘bad’ about women. Ms. Hutton’s life was chaotic because she is drug and alcohol dependent; her home was squalid; she deliberately neglected her child; she had left her male partner and she deliberately allowed her child to die!
Now that she has been convicted, Bradford Council swiftly claimed they had done all they could to protect this child and local Social Services too claim they too did everything they could to protect Hamzah. Likewise local police claimed they weren’t to blame because they claim Ms. Hutton was ‘an obstructive woman who refused offers of help and went to great lengths to conceal Hamzah’s death in December, 2009.’
Yet it is well known women who live chaotic lives are not ‘angels’ and will commonly hide/deny their reality. The police’s claim Ms. Hutton was ‘obstructive’ means Ms. Hutton did not enact appropriate submissive behaviour whereby she should have meekly submitted to whatever the police demanded. Social Service frontline staff are supposed to have an understanding of the complexities of how and why many mothers deny they have ‘problems’ and view Social Workers as attempting to control them and/or remove their children on false pretenses. This is not to absolve Ms. Hutton of any accountability but she alone was not responsible for death of her child.
Detective Superintendent Lisa Griffin demonises Ms. Hutton because contrary to Griffin’s claims not all women are able to raise their children without the support and help of Social Services. Ms. Hutton’s drug and alcohol addiction are not separate issues since she was also subjected to systemic male violence by Khan. But the Crown Prosecutor claimed the fact Ms. Hutton had been subjected to systemic male violence from her former male partner, Aftab Khan was ‘irrelevant.’ Issue of intimate male partner violence against a woman supposedly has no impact whatsoever on a woman’s ability to care for her child/children.
We now learn that Ms. Hutton was the subject of a number of multi-agency meetings, (this means Social Services, Bradford Child Protection Agency and local police were all present) but no action was taken!
The Guardian’s report of Ms. Hutton’s conviction makes this ludicrous claim: ‘Police were called when she ended up with a black eye after an argument in the street with Khan, with whom she had begun a relationship around 10 years earlier.’ Somehow Ms. Hutton ‘ended up with a black eye’ but we don’t know who inflicted this upon Ms. Hutton. Perpetrator Khan’s actions are neatly invisibilised because Guardian claims it was just an ‘argument’ which is not the same as ‘Khan subjected Ms. Hutton to physical violence resulting in him hitting her in the face and causing injury to tissue surrounding her eye!’
Malestream media reports that ‘No doctors saw Hamzah (Ms. Hutton’s child) from when he was two weeks old and Hutton slammed the door in the face of visiting health workers – when she bothered to answer the door at all.’ This is women-blaming and one wonders how malestream media knew when and if Hutton ‘bothered to answer the door!’ Perhaps malestream media has a ‘magic crystal ball’ whereby they can access the minute everyday details of Ms. Hutton’s life! Purpose of this nasty women-blaming sentence is to portray Ms. Hutton as ‘epitome of female monstrosity’ as opposed to the male created ‘mythical ideal mother!’
Glossed over is the fact Ms. Hutton’s General Practitioner removed her from his patient list, because Ms. Hutton failed to attend a number of appointments in respect of her child Hamzah. The practice of removing mothers from GP lists is not an isolated incident but is common practice. However, it is well known within Social Services that children not attending routine medical appointments is often an indication the mother is trying to hide something concerning child’s welfare. Furthermore Bradford Education authority also failed to notice that Hamzah whilst of school age had not attended any school.
During Ms. Hutton’s trial the court head about a welfare check undertaken by PC Maria Furness, eight months prior to Hamzah’s death. According to PC Furness, upon gaining access to Ms. Hutton’s home she found all Ms. Hutton’s children, including Hamzah ‘to be fed well, clean, healthy looking and there was an appropriate adult in the address.’ Yet court learned Hamzah had been systematically starved for many months so clearly there is a contradiction in evidence.
The list of systemic failures by Social Services, police, Bradford Education Authority and Ms. Hutton’s GP are all glossed over because the scapegoat is Ms. Hutton – she alone is supposedly responsible for causing her son Hamzah’s death by starvation.
As usual women are blamed for not ensuring the safety and well-being of their child/children. One wonders why we have institutions such as Social Services; police forces and Child Protection Institutions given it is women’s responsibility alone to ensure their child/children is accorded care and well-being!! As Detective Superintendent Lisa Griffin said: ‘ultimately the responsibility for care and welfare of the child in that household lay very firmly with Amanda Hutton and it was her responsibility and hers alone, to ensure that all their basic needs were met… Clearly she failed in that!’ Well that absolves police, Social Services and Bradford Local Authority of accountability because Ms. Hutton alone is to blame for death of Hamzah!
Interesting that father of Hamzah Aftab Khan is not held accountable for failing in his ‘father’s duty of care!’ One wonders why Khan didn’t do more to pressurise Social Services to take action, given he allegedly was concerned about well being of his son, Hamzah. But then fathers are never held to the same impossible standard as mothers are.
Doubtless there will be an in-depth report published in due course claiming authorities were not responsible but that ‘lessons have been learned,’ but this claim is meaningless because children and women continue to be denied real help and support from those institutions/agencies supposedly created to help them.
I have no doubt questions will not be asked concerning why frontline Social Workers are expected to manage too many cases without any additional support. Why there is no legislation permitting Social Workers to use Police in order to gain entry to homes when they strongly suspect a mother/father is neglecting their child/children. Questions will also not be asked as to why front line staff are commonly blamed when the real blame lies with continued failure and/or refusal of multi-agencies to communicate with each other and act collectively.
Equally interesting is the fact whenever a father decides to cold bloodedly murder his biological children he commonly claims ‘depression/unemployment/wife’s infidelity/alcohol/drug addiction caused him to commit murder.’ These claims are then accepted in mitigation but women continue to be held to impossible standards or rather it is the same old, same old misogynistic lies. Women are responsible for all mens’ ills!
All of the above evidence was obtained via reading reports from the UK’s Independent and Guardian because both these newspapers only partially reported all the facts and this is common practice within malestream media. Selective reporting ensures continuation of ‘fragmentation’ whereby the truth can be conveniently distorted to maintain a specific male supremacist agenda.
London ~ Friday 4 October 2013
Hamzah Khan death: Amanda Hutton faces sentencing for starving four-year-old son to death
Hamzah Khan's mummified remains were discovered in a cot in a Bradford home in September 2011 almost two years after he diedBy Cahal Milmo, Jonathan Brown
Hamzah Khan, who's mummified body was found in the bedroom of his mother's home almost two years after he died (West Yorkshire Police/AP)
An alcoholic mother-of-eight has been convicted of starving her four-year-old son to death and hiding his remains, in a case which raises renewed questions about the protection of vulnerable children.
Amanda Hutton, 43, a former care worker for the elderly, was found guilty of manslaughter after a jury heard how Hamzah Khan’s grossly malnourished body was found hidden at her Bradford home in a baby-gro for a nine-month-old baby.
The child’s mummified and insect-infested remains were not discovered until nearly two years after his death in December 2009 when a complaint from a neighbour led officers to the family’s three-storey home and a scene of appalling squalor.
Hutton, who betrayed no emotion as the unanimous verdict of manslaughter by gross negligence was delivered at Bradford Crown Court, had claimed that Hamzah was a “fussy eater” who had effectively starved himself to death.
The well-spoken mother was known to police after suffering domestic violence at the hands of her estranged partner, Aftab Khan. She was placed on a West Yorkshire Police register of abuse victims at the highest level of risk.
But police and prosecutors said the history of abuse could not absolve her of her devastating neglect of Hamzah - one of six school-age children aged five to 13 living with her. The trial heard that Hutton had fed Hamzah half a banana and half a cheese and onion pasty each day.
Detective Superintendent Lisa Griffin, of West Yorkshire police, who led the investigation, said: “Ultimately the responsibility for the care and welfare of the children in that household lay very firmly with Amanda Hutton, and it was her responsibility and hers alone, to ensure that all their basic needs were met... Clearly she failed in that.”
The conviction of Hutton, who also admitted charges of cruelty to her remaining five school-age offspring and failure to dispose adequately of a body, raised immediate concerns about whether professionals, from police officers to social workers and health visitors, could have spotted warning signs prior to Hamzah’s death.
A serious case review by Bradford's Safeguarding Children Board, due to be published shortly, is expected to express concern that Hamzah was removed from the patient list at his GPs practice in 2009 after his mother failed to attend a number of appointments.
The jury in Hutton’s trial was told that the child’s health record was blank beyond the age of two weeks and he had never been seen by a GP. Although he was of school-age by the time of his death, Hamzah’s absence was not noticed by his education authority.
The NSPCC said it was concerned at the practice of GPs removing children from their lists. David Tucker, head of policy, said: “Children not appearing at medical appointments is an indicator of risk that a parent or a carer is trying to avoid a professional seeing that child and seeing the abuse or neglect that that child is suffering.”
Following his arrest for attacking Hutton in 2008, Khan repeatedly asked officers to check Hamzah to see “how undernourished he is”.
But despite being the subject of multi-agency case meetings to discuss vulnerable families and visits from police and one social worker, nothing untoward was reported about Hutton or her children.
During one visit nine months before Hamzah’s death, a police officer described the six children as being in “good health” and “perfectly adequate surroundings”.
By the time the child’s body was discovered, conditions in the family home had deteriorated to the extent that officers who entered the property found themselves ankle deep in fast food boxes, faeces and empty vodka bottles. Hutton told the court that following Hamzah’s death she had taken to drinking a litre of spirits each day - a fact which prosecutors said proved she had put alcohol and cannabis above the needs of her children.
The bathroom sink was caked in vomit and the fridge contained nothing other than rotten food and ready meals for which the best before date had expired five months earlier.
In the only vaguely clean room - Hutton’s bedroom - Hamzah’s body was found beneath layers of discarded clothing in a blue travel cot. A teddy bear had been placed beside him by his mother, who claimed she had spent hours holding his body on the night of his death but was also found to have ordered take away pizza and curry that same evening.
Police said that Hutton, who will be sentenced tomorrow along with her grown-up son Tariq Khan after he previously admitted a charge of failure to adequately dispose of a body, had been “obstructive” and “difficult” and turned down multiple offers of help from care agencies.
Ms Griffin said the final months of Hamzah’s life, during which he was at one point observed eating the contents of his own soiled nappy, could only have been horrific. She said: “I can only imagine the pain and the suffering that that child endured.”
Social services leaders in Bradford said working practices would be changed to reflect concerns raised by the case. Professor Nick Frost, independent chair of Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Given the refusal of all offers of help that would be offered to any mother and the lack of serious concerns raised from any other source, there was limited involvement from statutory agencies.“
London ~ Friday 4 October 2013
Hamzah Khan starved to death by mother Amanda Hutton, jury decides
Mother convicted of manslaughter at Bradford crown court after four-year-old son's body was left in cot for almost two yearsBy Helen Pidd, northern editor
Amanda Hutton outside Bradford crown court where she was found guilty of manslaughter of her four-year-old son Hamzah Khan. (Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
A mother was on Thursday found guilty of starving her four-year-old son to death and letting his body mummify unseen in a cot for two years.
Amanda Hutton, a 43-year-old mother of eight from Bradford, fed Hamzah Khan so little that when his corpse was found he fitted in a babygrow designed for a six- to nine-month-old. His remains were mummified, mouldy and swarming with insects when police discovered them in September 2011.
None of Hutton's children were on the at-risk register or part of a child protection plan at the time the body was found, Bradford council said. A council spokeswoman rejected a claim by West Yorkshire police that numerous referrals had been made by officers to social services each time Hutton made an allegation of domestic violence against her ex-partner, Aftab Khan.
"Hamzah's is yet another tragic story of a child who was invisible to society and died at the hands of a parent," said Shaun Kelly, head of safeguarding at Action for Children. "It all adds up to a systemic failure to protect the most vulnerable."
Following a two-week trial, a jury at Bradford crown court found Hutton, had a problem with alcohol, guilty of manslaughter by gross neglect. That came at the end of a hearing that had begun with prosecuting QC Paul Greaney asking: "How had a child starved to death in 21st-century England?"
Five children aged between five and 11 were found by police when they searched Hutton's house two years ago. The court heard that they were malnourished, with head lice and fungal infections that had left them with missing toenails.
Some were wearing nappies despite being of school age, and appeared to crawl upstairs using their hands rather than walking. None had been seen by doctors for years. In May 2007 the family had missed so many medical appointments that their GP practice suspended appointments for the whole family indefinitely.
Neighbours said they had never seen some of the children in the two and a half years the family had lived in the terrace house. But some gave evidence admitting they had heard prolonged crying and shouting through the thin joining walls. Hamzah's body was found only when a neighbour complained about dirty nappies being thrown in his garden in the middle of the night, prompting a visit from a particularly tenacious police officer.
Aftab Khan, who in 2009 was convicted of assaulting Hutton and was described in court by the prosecution as having a "not at all attractive personality", said she had "well hidden" Hamzah's death and her neglect of the other children.
In an interview with the Guardian this week, Aftab Khan denied being a violent man but said he felt guilty about Hamzah's death. "I feel guilty. Of course I should have done more," he said. "I feel responsibility as a father. But this was nothing to do with me. It's clear cut. Believe me, if police had any evidence I'd been involved I'd be in that dock too." He said social services had to accept some responsibility for failing Hamzah. "They knew for a long time there had been problems," he said.
After the verdict police described Hutton as an "obstructive" woman who refused offers of help and went to great lengths to conceal Hamzah's death in December 2009.
Detective Supt Lisa Griffin, the senior investigating officer, said the case was the worst she had seen in 28 years in the police service. "She [Hutton] was obstructive, she was difficult and she failed in her ability to parent that child, to look after his basic needs, and sadly he died in the most difficult of circumstances. I can only imagine the pain and the suffering that that child endured." A spokeswoman for Bradford council said a serious case review would be published later this year after an inquest is held into Hamzah's death. Hutton will be sentencedon Friday, alongside her eldest son, Tariq, 24, who with his mother had already pleaded guilty to preventing Hamzah's lawful burial. Hutton also pleaded guilty to five charges of neglect involving her five surviving school-age children.
October 3 2013, Issue 648
Sudanese women: you can beat us but you cannot break usBy Hala Alkarib
Political Islam in Sudan remains very strong and manifests itself in floggings of Sudanese women that are justified by the constitution in the Indecent and Immoral Acts. Yet, Sudanese women remain defiant and resist these unjust and misogynistic laws (c.c T V W)
While the anger is accumulating in Sudan and peaceful demonstrators are being injured and killed by the Sudanese regime forces, this comes as a natural result of years of injustices. Sudan has been exposed to the brutality of the dogmatic ideology of political Islam, and the people have been stripped of their dignity. The story here is just a tip of the iceberg. Sudanese women are the mirror of the cruelty and disparity imposed by the ruling regime.
For 25 years now, women in Sudan have been flogged publicly. The current Sudanese regime’s ideology was clear from day one; terrorizing women - which amounts to paralysing a whole nation. Like all dogma in political Islam, the regime sat and agreed that the road to secure their position was through controlling women’s bodies, minds, existence and interaction in public. Their misogynistic ideology is based on women being problematic and in need of being disciplined and controlled: that women are both dangerous and the main instigator of immorality, equally responsible for all evil in society, hence the need to be told how to behave in public.
CRIMINALISING WOMEN TO JUSTIFY MISOGYNY
‘It’s not enough to talk to them; we have to punish them and install fear in their minds because they are not intelligent and are spiritually unfit. Their fathers and husbands are unable to control them.’ These are the beliefs that underpin Article 152 of the Sudan criminal code, ‘Indecent and Immoral Acts’ - on the basis of which Amira Osman, a Sudan activist, is currently facing trial, and under which thousands of invisible poor women have already been tried, sentenced and publicly lashed. Their laughter is seen as a crime, their presence provoking sin.
This is how the regime vaguely drafted Article 154 of the criminal code, 'Practicing Prostitution.” The article defines a ‘place of prostitution’ as "any place designated for the meeting of men and women between whom there is no marital relationship, or kinship, in circumstances in which the exercise of sexual acts is probable to occur". Hundreds of women are being charged under this article every day, inside their homes and work places. The breadth of interpretation effectively allows women in any public place in which a woman can be in the same room as an unrelated man to be tried under this article.
The offence of ‘possession of materials and displays contrary to public morality’ of Article 153 has exposed thousands of young women to the madness of the public order police and deprived them of simply living normally, and with dignity. The Sudan public order laws are written in a vague and elusive way in order to allow judges and the law enforcers to employ their own interpretations of the law. This has turned the legal system into self serving machinery manipulated and twisted against women's presence and participation in public.
Sara is a 25 year old artist and school teacher at a private school. Early this year, while on her way back home, she was stopped and picked up by the public order police. She was wearing trousers and a long sleeved T- shirt. She was sexually assaulted, verbally humiliated and then charged under Article 152 for wearing trousers. According to her story, by the time they picked her up, there were twelve other women inside the vehicle all of whom had been picked up randomly by the public order police while walking on public roads. None of them had committed any crime, all were just walking along minding their own business. They were detained for 24 hours, their phones were confiscated. In the morning the judge called them out by name and when her name was called Sara says the judge asked her, ‘what do you want 40 lashes or paying 1000 SDP?’ She said she only had ten pounds, then he yelled ‘40 lashes’ and the soldier grabbed her. They took her to the yard inside the detention block, made her sit on the sand floor and they started whipping her. ‘After 10 extremely painful lashes’, she said. ‘I was numbed and I could only hear the mocking and the laughter of the soldiers standing around and asking the flogger to beat harder.’
BEATING WOMEN TO SUBMIT
Forty-four year old Halima brews alcohol locally and sells it to men from all over Khartoum. She is the breadwinner of her family of six children and two elderly parents, all of whom depend on her for their care. She said she has been flogged and jailed many times, ‘every time they come they take away the alcohol, re-sell it to consumers or they drink it, and beat me for making it.’
THE DEAD ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN THE LIVING
Amena, 56 years old, sells tea next to a private hospital. She says, ‘they keep taking my kettle and cups all the time, sometimes they flog me, or if I have some money I give it to them. These days I have found a place next to the graveyard to sell my tea. I still get customers, but the police rarely come close to me - I think the dead in our country are more powerful than the living.’
The tales of these women reflect more or less how millions of Sudanese women are living.
FAILURE TO COVER HER HAIR
Hundreds of women flocked to court to attend Amira Osman’s trial, a Sudanese activist who was charged under Article 152 for not covering her hair with a scarf. Her trial has now been postponed until 4 November 2013. These women will not give up their humanity and dignity, despite the whip being held to their heads.
The battle against Sudan’s public order regime, which has been infused within the criminal code of the country, has been going on for years across the country. This regime has been utilized to repress women, to compromise their livelihoods, to impoverish them, to limit their participation in public life, sport, cultural activities and mobility, as well as to limit their political participation. The Sudanese discriminatory laws and the public order regime are affecting communities for generations to come by imposing the subordination of women in the mindset of the younger generation, and hence taking away any potential for progress and peace.
*Hala Alkarib is the Director of the Strategic Initiative for women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA)
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