Just another WordPress.com site

Posts tagged ‘murder’

Love Burns; Bride burning

My mother-in-law used to say that my husband was too educated for me, that he didn’t get a fair dowry, said Bhargava, who now lives alone in a New Delhi slum.

It first started with emotional and verbal abuse that escalated into physical when her husband and mother-in-law scalded her with boiling water. Desperate and with no choice, Bhargava dowsed herself in kerosene and set herself on fire. 40% of her body was burned. “I miss my daughter and fear the evil that may befall her. Though I passed these times, somehow, to my children I am dead,” she said.

These men marry their wife’s “until death do us part”, and they make that happen too. After being condemned and banned, bride burning is still alive and well in India. The practice is used because it’s the most effective way to cover the crime. The family members can basically call it an “accident” or “suicide” since the fire destroys all evidence. Most of the burn victims gets infection and rarely survive so that prosecution is not needed.

One reason is that divorce is equal to shame in many societies and stains the family honour. To become a widow is better than having a divorce.

Pay up or else…

Dowry murder has become a lucrative business for greedy in-laws and husbands. The dowry may be paid and the family receiving it may be happy at the time, but they usually change their mind afterwards. If the bride’s parents won’t or can’t pay more, the bride is victimized. After abusing her, the in-laws usually end the problem by deciding to kill her in cold blood so that the son can remarry and get more dowry from another family. Legal attempts have been made to eradicate the dowry system from 1939 but the practice is still continuing. In 1989 an amendment of criminal law was passed stating;

One man’s death is another man’s bread

Dowry first originated in the upper class families as a wedding gift to the bride from the family. Then the dowry was meant as a help with marriage expenses and became insurance in case if the in-laws terrorized her. The groom often demands a dowry consisting of a large sum of money, farm animals, land, furniture or electronics.

In the Indian subcontinent, including Bangladesh and Pakistan it is reported that “dowry death”, often called “bride burning”, happens once every 100 minutes and there are between 4,000 and 25,000 victims. As bizarre as it may seem, yes, married women are murdered by their husband or their in-laws for the financial opportunities available once the bride is dead.

The theory behind the dowry is that the putative husband is taking over the responsibility of the bride’s family and as she has little value on her own, a dowry must accompany her to make the marriage worthwhile for the groom.

The Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961 makes it a criminal offence to both give and receive a dowry but the custom and traditions are so deeply rooted that it is still ongoing. After the wedding, demands will be made during the marriage that the original dowry was insufficient and additional dowry is required. The wife’s demise means the husband can keep his wife’s dowry and marry a second time with dowry if not get rid of her and then remarry.

While this horrific domestic abuse is against the law, India’s patriarchal society, including its police and Courts of Law, have not taken this inhumane violence as seriously as they need to. An amendment to India’s criminal law was finally enacted in 1986 which reads:

“where the death of a woman is caused by any burns or bodily injury or occurs otherwise than under normal circumstances within seven years of marriage and it is shown that immediately before her death she was harassed and put to cruelty by her husband or any relative of her husband in connection with demand for dowry, such death shall be called as “dowry death”.

It is estimated that at least one woman dies in related act of violence every hour in India. Some are set on fire, some are hanged, and some are fed poison or sleeping tablets. Most of these cases are not investigated as homicide by the police but are written off as accidents or suicides.

However, Indias National Crime Records showed that there were 8,172 dowry deaths’s including suicides in 2008 and less than 10% had been investigated. In India having a female is such a burden now because of dowry that many people are aborting female fetus’s because of the risk and toile it takes on one’s family safety and financial situation. Link

A 85 year old woman and her elder son were sentenced to life imprisonment including a fine on Rs 12,000 each for burning alive her younger son’s wife for failing to fulfill her dowry demands in India.  Their conviction came on the basis of the bride’s dying declaration where she told that her mother and brother-in-law used to harass and beat her for not fulfilling their demand of bringing a motorcycle and a television dowry.

22 October 2008, one day before the murder, the mother-in-law Husan and her elder son Nasim had beaten Gulnaz for failing to bring dowry. The next day when Gulnaz woke up, Husan picked a fight with her while Nasim doused her with kerosene oil and set her ablaze.  Her husband Nasuriddun and their nephew ran in hearing her cries trying to extinguish the fire. They took her to a nearby hospital where she died 2 months later.  The duo defended them by saying that they were not home and that the victim had caught fire accidently while she was igniting the stove to warm food for her husband.

While in Pakistan, divorce is possible but some families prefer murder rather than to divorce them. It is difficult to imagine how someone can kill their wife, the mother of their child over money or simply because they are no longer wanted. In many of these cases, the police are told that the victim was killed by an exploding stove and there will usually not be any persecution. Doctors however have reported that the injuries of many of the victims are not consistent with stove burns.

 

Saira Liaqat, 26 holds a portrait of herself before being burnt in Lahore, Pakistan. July 9th, 2998 at the age of 15, Saira was married off to a relative who later attacked her insisting her to live with him although the agreement was that she would move to his house after finishing school. After the attack, Saira have undergone 9 plastic surgery to recover from her scars with the help of Depilex Smile again Foundation in Lahore, an organization that helps burn victims to reintegrate into society through medical and psychological support.

The main problem in Pakistan first of all is the lack of investigation, arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators. Women are seen as property and not given any respect or value what so ever. This is a great shame, because these women are mothers, sisters, daughters and wives. These men’s mother was once a bride, and would they want the same for them? It’s a selfish act from people that has no respect for human life when they not only destroy a innocent person’s life but take the mother away from their children.

More specialized burn units are needed in hospitals and not least a new law that bans this custom and that does not collide with another law so that the perpetrators go free.

Roopa, a tragic story in India

Roopa was 14 when she fell in love with a boy 3-4 years older than her. Her family did not approve of him and wanted her to finish school, however Roopa decided to run away with him. Her family managed to bring her back home twice, the second time with the help of the police but Roopa wanted to marry the boy. Finally her parents relented but wanted nothing to do with the marriage.

Roopa then married the boy with his family’s consent. They also had a registration, where they showed her age as 18, the legal age of marriage without the parent’s consent. However a year later, when her parents visited her to see how she was doing, the in laws made a dowry demand. Her parents refused saying the marriage did not have their consent. More so, Roopa’s father in law is wealthy — and they saw no reason for them to give him more money. After the parents left, the abuse began. Roopa’s mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and husband took turns beating her. She was made to work like a slave for the whole family — cooking, cleaning, etc. Then they started starving her and forcing her to eat their left over’s. By the time she was 15 Roopa was pregnant and after her son was born, the abuse intensified.

Then the family separated the child from her and made plans to get rid of her. She tried to run away on two occasions but was brought back (by other villagers) and severely beaten. The second time they locked her in a room without food for 7 days. When they found out that the neighbors had been sneaking food to her, the mother-in-law, the sister in law and the husband, all together, held her down and forced acid down her throat. They then left the house assuming that she’d be dead by the time they got back.

Miraculously Roopa managed to get out of the house and the neighbors took her to the hospital where she told the doctors what had happened to her. Unbelievable 2 hospitals didn’t want to report this to the police and turned her down while the third was forced to take her in because she had passed out from pain. The in laws in the meantime found out that she had been taken to a hospital and as they were worried about an investigation they actually came to the hospital and paid her expenses for a month, after which the doctors said they could do nothing more and she was taken back to the village where they live.

The suffering continued but her parents had heard about the news. When they came to see her, the in-laws said that she had tried to commit suicide. The next day, her father came back to the village, this time with some male relatives. He knew they would kill his daughter if he didn’t take her out by force. First he tried to file an official complaint (FIR) with the local police but Roopa’s father-in-law was not only wealthy, he was on the village judiciary so the police refused to take the complaint. Roopa’s father then begged the police to help him get his daughter out, he said all he wanted to do was save her. Finally an armed police van was sent to escort him to the village.
Roopa is back with her parents and is now hospitalized and undergoing treatment. The acid had caused a lot of damage to her internal organs and for 3 months she has not been able to consume any food orally. She has to be ‘fed’ through a tube inserted into her stomach and lost a tremendous amount of weight. Her recovery will be a very slow and painful process with continued tests and surgery.

 

A woman is burned to death almost every 12 hours and the dowry murders are increasing. 90% of cases of women burnt were recorded as accidents, five percent as suicide and only the remaining five percent were shown as murder. Despite of bans and laws against it, convictions are rare and judges who usually are men is easily bought off with a nice sum of money.

What should be done?

  • Women and girls must be educated so that they know about their rights and can become economically independent. Then there must be opened more shelters that can provide help and protection for this women. Something that also would be useful is if the shelters would be given authorization to claim on behalf of the victim even if the family refuses to go to court.
  • Children must be educated in morals and ethics so that the younger generations will learn to respect each other and solve conflicts without the act of violence.
  • The media must increase awareness and publicize tragedies to help change the public perception on dowry violence, and for this, the censorship must be free.

Organizations like Amnesty must publicize this so citizens from around the world can be made aware of the situation’s gravity and help support the ban.

Karo-Kari; A twisted mind

Karo-Kari, another menace, another twisted way of murdering people has existed for many years in Pakistan. Various news agencies NGO’s have highlighted the growing problem for years but the government has failed to do something about it.

For those who don’t know what Karo-Kari is, it is a premeditated honour killing which is originated from the rural and tribal areas of Sindh, Pakistan. Karo-Kari is part of cultural tradition in Sindh and is a compound word literally meaning “black male” (Karo) and “black female (Kari), a metaphoric term for adulterer and adulteress. Honour killing has given different names in different regions of Pakistan  as it is named kala-kali in Punjab, tor-tora (KPH), siyahkari in Baluchistan and karo-kari in Sindh.

Once a female is labeled as a Kari, male family members get the self-authorized justification to kill her and the co-accused Karo to restore family honor, although in the majority of cases the victim is female, while the murderers are male. Such “immoral behavior” may take the form of alleged marital infidelity, refusal to submit to an arranged marriage, demanding a divorce, perceived flirtatious behavior and rape. Suspicion and accusations alone are many times enough to defile a family’s honor and therefore enough to warrant the killing of the woman. Women are seen as property with minor or none rights in the communities that the government mainly ignores the daily murders.

Women who are believed to have brought shame and dishonor to their family by engaging in illicit pre-marital or extra-marital relations are targeted. Men who have engaged in sexual activity with the female are also killed but majority is women. In order for the honour to be restored, a male family member must kill the female who is found guilty. What’s outraging is that the victim has absolutely no given opportunity to defend herself and once found guilty, only blood will remove the stain of dishonor. Other violations can be a woman refusing to enter into an arrange marriage, seeking divorce (even from an abusive husband), having relations with a man outside of marriage (sexual or non-sexual), flirting and even if she is the victim of rape. Most of the murders take place because of suspicions, misunderstandings and animosity. It reminds of crime of passion where the husband kills his wife. The accusation comes as a sudden surprise that usually the victims has no opportunity to save their own lives, seek help, find protection from the police or court. And because it usually happens inside the family, the perpetrators get away with paying blood money and forgiving each other.

I believe that this practice is just an bad excuse for getting rid of women, get hold of someone’s land, earning blood money  and to take revenge.

If and when the case reaches a court of law, the victim’s family may ‘pardon’ the murderer (who is usually one of them), or be pressurized to access blood-money as compensation. The murderer then goes free.

Once such a pardon has been secured, the state has no further writ on the matter. Human rights agencies in Pakistan have repeatedly emphasized that women falling prey to Karo-Kari were usually those wanting to marry of their own will. In many cases, the victims held properties that the male members of their families did not wish to lose if the women chose to marry outside the family. More often than not, the Karo-Kari murder relates to inheritance problems, feud-settling or simply to get rid of the woman. The families always say that it was suicide or fatal accident.

Lives claimed

 Unmarked graves of victims

During the first months of 2011, 11 murders took place in Sindh province of Pakistan. 6 women and 5 men were killed.

An unbelievable incident was when a 25 year old man killed his 55 year old mother suspecting her for having a relationship with another man. Begum Khatoon, the mother was sleeping when her son Hussain shot her to death. Hussain and his friends later threw her body 50 meters away from the village. The victim’s brother filed a report at the police station against his nephew and 2 others. The cold blooded killer stated from prison: “I don’t have any regrets for killing my mother because she was kari and deserved punishment”. “I am a man of honour and will not spare the karo, once I am out of the lock-up.”

In April a police constable shot and killed his wife on the pretext of Karo-Kari when he saw her in an objectionable state with her brother-in-law in his house. She was his second wife. The same month, 5 other people were killed for the same reason on 19th and 20th April 2011. Sono Mastoi had been suspecting his wife for having sexual relations with the youths of the area. He first shot his wife and then the 2 boys. There was not performed any post mortem, neither was anyone arrested.

12th April 2011, Farooq accused his wife Mukhtaran for having illicit relations with Asif Unnar, a residedent in the same village. Farooq tried to kill his wife but she managed to escape and hide in her parent’s house. Next day, Farooq went to a landlord, Mohammad Hassan Unnar telling him the story and Mokhammad Hassan gathered a meeting of community elders at his home. The accused Karo, Asif was on the run and the elders ordered that both Karo-Kari should be killed. When Mukhtarans father got the news, he went to the nearby police station and placed a police report against the 9 men, including Farooq and Mohammad Hassan. They were soon arrested.

Saima Bibi, a 21 year old woman was electrocuted by her family because she had secretly married a man they didn’t approve of. Police arrested her father and 3 other relatives after being tipped off from an anonymous caller. Bibi, an ethnic Baluch, defied demands from her family to marry a Baluch relative and instead ran away to the southern port city of Karachi to marry a fellow villager. Her father and several other relatives traveled to Karachi and duped her into coming back home, when she didn’t listen to further demands they electrocuted her, he said. Bibi’s family told police she committed suicide on Friday in their village in the district of Bahawalpur in Punjab, but a medical report showed signs of torture and electrocution on her hands, legs and back, police said.

Another case was that of Taslim Khatoon Solangi, 17, of Hajna Shah village in Khairpur district, which was widely reported after her father, 57-year-old Gul Sher Solangi, publicized the case. He alleged his 8 months’ pregnant daughter was tortured and killed on March 7 on the orders of her father-in-law, who accused her of carrying a child conceived out of wedlock.

Official numbers from the Pakistani Senate showed that more than 4,000 people had been killed in the name of honour the last years as a result of Karo-Kari. Of the victims, almost 2,800 were women and over 1,327 were men. The highest number of murders had happened in Punjab, followed by Sindh, the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), and the south western province of Baluchistan. Of 2,774 murdered women, 1,578 were killed in Punjab, 751 in Sindh, 260 in NWFP and 185 in Baluchistan. Of the 1,327 murdered men, 675 were killed in Punjab, 348 in Sindh, 188 in NWFP and 116 in Baluchistan. The actual numbers are much higher and many cases go unreported because of loyalty to the family.

Turn the blind eye

Even though the authorities haven’t exactly shown too much interest in punishing the criminals, there have been some attempts to stop this heinous act. In December 2004, the government passed a bill which made Karo-Kari punishable under the same penal as murder. However, this bill seems very useless besides another Pakistani law; a proven murderer can seek or buy pardon from the victim’s family. No attempts of changing the law have been made, and since a family member commits the crime, almost all of them are pardoned. And once the perpetrator is pardoned, the state cannot to any further thing with the case.

Illiteracy and Ignorance

It has been noted and highlighted by sociologists that honour killings do not always have something to do with religion but rather from customs and cultures from different areas of the country. The practice of karo-kari actually dates back to the pre-Islamic period when Arab settlers occupied a region adjacent to Sindh, which was known as Baluchistan according to Dr. Kay Ashraf.

The number of honour killings in Pakistan is estimated to be around 2,500 to 3,000 cases every year, however, a good number of these cases go unreported or are passed off as suicides and only 25% of these are brought to justice.

These murders happen in rural areas and villages with a high number of uneducated people. People get married in an early age and children don’t get education. Women and girls are usually forced to stay home and not socialize. The husband and in laws can literally do anything they want and walk unpunished.

The government and authorities has not done enough to stop this barbaric custom. When I look at the numbers of females killed, I notice that it is much higher than the men. So does it mean that women are more unfaithful? I don’t think so. Besides all the NGO’s, the media workers should have enough freedom of speech and censorship to highlight this problem.

Something must be done to save these women from this heinous act because they also deserve a life without violence and abuse.

Virgin suicides

“My family attacked my personality, and I felt I had committed the biggest sin in the world. I felt I had no right to dishonor my family, that I have no right to be alive. So I decided to respect my family’s desire and die.” Derya, 17 years old. Turkey.

The order to kill herself came from her uncle in a text message to her cell phone. “You have blackened our name, kill yourself and clean our shame or we will kill you first,” it said. Derya’s crime was to fall in love with a boy she had met at school. She knew it was dangerous because her aunt had been killed by her grandfather for speaking with a boy.

When news of the love affair spread to her family, her mother warned her that her father would kill her but she refused to listen. Her brothers and uncle sent her text messages every day threatening her. Filled with shame and afraid, Derya decided to commit suicide. First she jumped into the Tigris River, but survived. Then she tried to hang herself but another uncle cut her down. Last she tried to slash her wrists with a kitchen knife.

Elif, another young girl received her death sentence when she declined the offer of an arranged marriage with an older man. Her wish was to continue on her education. The disobedience brought shame on her whole family and the only way out was death. She managed to escape.

These honor suicides in Turkey has reached new heights as they have turned into honor suicides. This phenomenon emerged after the new reforms to Turkey’s penal code in 2005. Before, killers could receive reduced sentences claiming provocation but after the reforms, the government introduced mandatory life sentences for honor killings. Soon after the law was passed, honor suicides increased in numbers. Batman, a city in the south east with a population of 250,000 has got the nickname “suicide city” because of the high number of suicides among girls. The city was also featured in the novel by Turkish writer and Nobel literature winner in 2006 Orhan Pamuk’s “snow”. The story was about a journalist’s investigation of a suicide epidemic among teenage girls. Between 2001 and 2006, there were 1,806 murders in Turkey that fell under the definition of honor killings, according to the State Minister for Women and Family Affairs Nimet Çubukçu. Meanwhile, during the same period, 5,375 women committed suicide.

 A man showing pic of his 14 year old daughter who committed suicide

A majority of the murders happens in the Kurdish regions where people have been segregated from the rest of the society. Education usually ends in an early age and ignorance seems to transfer from generations to generations. These rural communities are ruled under a strict patriarchal system and decisions are usually made by a “family council” when the extended family meets to discuss honor. They discuss everything from how the victim should be killed and if it isn’t a forced suicide, a killer is chosen. The youngest member of the family is often chosen in hope that they will receive a shorter sentence. The families have the choice between sacrificing a son to a life in prison or forcing the daughter to finish the job herself.

23-year-old Yildiz A. from Turkey was stabbed in the stomach six or seven times and her nose and ears and part of her lip cut off, then she was dumped in a field. She managed to crawl to the side of the road where a passing motorist took her to hospital.

13 year old Rojda was raped and as punishment for “allowing” herself to be raped, her nose was cut off

There are many honor killers in the prisons and oddly enough, they are treated with huge respect among the other inmates and even some prison guards. In the recent years, many Kurds have fled their hometowns and settled to other cities across the country because of the fighting’s between Turkey’s government and the rebels PKK. With the migration, the honor killings and suicides are spreading as well.

Turkey has the highest proportion of female professors in Europe, at 27% and the lifestyle has developed into modern and secular. Families who move to bigger cities and face a modern secular lifestyle have a hard time adjusting and the clash of culture makes it hard on the females who are forced to behave conservatively when there are more temptations around.

Almost every week, a young female tries to commit suicide in Batman or in the nearby areas which are commonly poor and rural with deeply rooted tribal traditions. Others have been stoned to death, strangled, shot or buried alive. Their crime was everything from looking at a boy, wearing a short skirt, declining an arranged marriage, wanting to go out with friends, being raped or engaged in sexual relations out of wedlock. Once the shame has spread to the family, the only way it can be restored is through death. Some women’s group have reported that the girls are being locked up in a room for days with a gun, rat poison, rope etc. they are constantly reminded on that their disgrace is punished by death.

In an effort to help these girls, Ka-Mer, a local women’s group has created a hot line for women who fear that their life might be at risk. They help the girls find shelter and to apply to the courts for restraining orders against their relatives. Ayten Tekar, a caseworker for Ka-Mer in Diyarbakir stated that half of the 104 women, who called the hot line, were uneducated and illiterate. Some had also told that the families hadn’t wanted to kill them but the social pressure and the village gossip had driven them to commit suicide.  “We have to bring these killings out from the shadows and teach women about their rights. The laws have been changed, but the culture here will not change overnight,” she said.

A worldwide epidemic

According to the United Nations, about 5,000 honor killings take place each year, most of them in the Middle East. Iraqi Kurds, Palestinians in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey appear to be the worst offenders. But honor crimes long ago spread to Britain, Belgium, Russia and Canada and many other nations.These killings have spread throughout Europe and reached to the US during the last 10 years as migrants have settled down. Police authorities across Europe who wasn’t familiar with the problem met in 2006 to discuss the reasons and preventions. Denmark was the first country out in a European court to sentence several family members for honor killing instead of just the triggerman. It can now be found in USA, Germany, Sweden, France, Netherlands and United Kingdom.

Ghazala Kahn, a Pakistani 18 year old, had an intimate relationship with her future husband, Emal Khan 3 years before her murder. She kept the relationship secret but eventually revealed her feelings to her mother, who became outraged and beat her, joined by Ghazala’s older brother, Akhtar Abbas, the same man who would later shoot her. After this, Ghazala was locked up inside the house and “frozen out” by the rest of her family, all of whom refused to speak to her or eat with her. Finally, on 5 September 2005 she managed to escape and lived with Emal. In the period up until her murder they lived with various friends in Denmark. They repeatedly contacted the police for protection, but were denied help. On 21 September they married and two days later, the family, pretending to want to come to a peaceful reconciliation, convinced the newlywed couple to arrange a meeting at the railway station where Ghazala’s brother shot both Ghazala and Emal Khan. Ghazala was killed instantly while Emal, shot twice survived.

The family was upset so they persuaded Ghazala’s brother to shoot her. The court however convicted 9 members of the family, including her father who conceived the murder and received a life sentence. Her brother received 16 years in prison and an aunt will spend 14 years in prison for luring Ghazala to what she believed would be a family gathering.

Migrants have lived in Europe for many years, so why haven’t they managed to integrate to the society? The problem goes way longer than a couple of years. After World War 2, Europe, especially Germany was left war stricken and the country needed guest workers to rebuild its cities. A huge amount of immigrants, mostly Turkish and Kurds migrated to West Europe and most of them were poor and uneducated. The mistake Germany commit was to allow separate schools for over 20 years and special housing for the guest workers where only their native language was spoken. This led to closed communities where Western culture and values were disregarded making room for ghettoes. Today, there are still classes at public schools where the native language is spoken and in the afternoon the children go home where the parents doesn’t speak German.

Iraq

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq has regularly highlighted “honour” killings of Kurdish women as being among the country’s most severe problems. Most of these crimes are reported as deaths caused by accidental fires in the home. 12,500 women were murdered or had committed suicide between 1991 and 2007 for “honour” reasons in Iraq’s 3 major Kurdish provinces. Authorities have admitted that they feel powerless when it comes to preventing the honor killings and honor suicides following by an increase of 70%. On reason can be that there is almost no conviction. Few years ago, 81 women were reported murdered and the authorities had made only 5 convictions. The police release the killers shortly after the arrest and does little attempt to track them down.

Rand Abdel-Qader was killed after her family discovered that she had formed a friendship with a 22-year-old infantryman whom she knew as Paul. She was suffocated by her father then hacked at with a knife. Abdel-Qader Ali was arrested and shortly after released without charge. Rand’s mother, Leila Hussein, who divorced her husband after the killing, went into hiding but was tracked down weeks later and assassinated by an unknown gunman. Her husband had told The Observer that police had congratulated him for killing his daughter. The father has left Basra. He was held by police in connection with his daughter’s murder for only two hours and a local businessman who described the actions of Rand’s father as ‘courageous’ was believed to have given a huge amount of money to him and his two sons, who disowned their mother after she objected to Rand’s killing.

An Iraqi lawyer said that some fathers had started to hire professional hitmen to carry out ‘honour killings.’ “The life of these women isn’t higher than $100. You can find a killer standing in any coffee shop of Basra, discussing prices of a life as if he was buying a piece of meat,” he said.

Mariam Ayub Sattar, an activist in Basra, said that any woman caught speaking to a man in public who was not her husband or a relative was considered a prostitute and punished. Three women were burned with acid while walking through a market in Basra after stopping to speak to a male friend, Sattar also told. This shows how narrow minded the Iraqi’s are and how much they try to isolate the women while the men have enormous freedom. A blow to the face was when The Women’s Rights Association in Basra was forced to close down after receiving death threats following the murder of Rand’s mother. Two women from a voluntary organization who had been helping her to hide from her husband were also injured.

Besides the murder, hundreds of women commit suicide every year by setting themselves on fire. In the first half of 2010, 80 suicides were reported in the Kurdish city of Suleimania according to a human rights activist named Suaad al-Khazraji. These suicides are actually not suicide but murder since they are forced by family members to restore the family honor. Looking at the numbers in Suleimania that is regarded to be the most open and modern city, the numbers are probably in thousands in the more conservative provinces like Baghdad, Basra, Arbil and Dahouk.

I don’t think that the elder generations will change their opinion about honor killings and suicides. For them, this is the only right thing to do and honor goes before everything. What the government should do is to target the younger generations in the rural areas. Education is number one solution to everything. When they know their rights, know how to read and write, then they also can escape this horrible practice. We cannot afford to lose more daughters, sisters and wife’s.

“In my village and in my father’s tribe, boys are in the sky while girls are treated as if they are under the earth. As long as families do not trust their daughters, bad things will continue to happen.”Derya, 17 years.

Women – Empowerment and Crime against Her.

Whenever I look around I found many unanswered questions which have not been answered since time unknown. Women throughout the history have faced the wrath of the male dominated society. Their rights have never been given importance or enforced into a civil system which leads her into complete decline as the time passes by.  She is the producer of the world whom the creator had created and she is the only one who can give birth and nourishes it with her body.

A woman in her life plays various roles and goes through numerous phases, from her first breath after her birth she becomes a daughter with a decided future and undecided intentions of the society even of her parents.  As she grows up in the backgrounds of her courtyard the eyes around her monitors her progress drawing the boundaries for her where she has large limitations but few openness for her mindset to allow her heart to explore further. With the celebrations of her sweet sixteen she approaches in an empowered world of man where her ambitions have no value, no respect which falls on the deaf years of her own family.

At the age when she should be living her goals of her life her parents sees the groom for her as if she is just meant for the matrimonial purpose and have no other rights to live her life as she planned. The marriage brings whole new roles and theme in a woman’s life where she defines new parameters for her life carrying the carcass of her dark future with a destiny where she will have to live with those for whom she had left the home. A married woman is more vulnerable than an independent unmarried one to the violence.  When married she is forced to work for the entire family making her a complete slave who not only have to look after her husband’s desires but also of others members in the family. If she didn’t expect the child pregnancy she is not only treated as an unwanted member but as a debt on their family. No matter how much she tries to adjust herself in the new environment and tries to satisfy the needs of others or her mate but she never rests in peace even at the time when her feet hang in the grave.

The journey from being a daughter to a wife transforms her life 360 degree with lots of sacrifices she owes on herself. But the story what it seems is not that as the reality is mouthing different. There is nothing like a peace in the world of woman where even the love she gets has the hidden desires of male for his unsatisfied nerves. Woman from ages had been treated like an object of glamour under whose shadow a world of males can quench his thirst. An object with whom they can play with, use her, live their hopes to live in her womb but never thinks about her desires, her aims of life, her rights which she deserves to live with as she wishes to practice.

The rudeness which a woman faces in her life is not only done by the male dominance but also those women who had faced and has been facing the similar atrocities on them. This has lead to a complete devastation of a gender that formed the generations of the entire human civilizations since without her it wouldn’t be possible. Even to this day women faces the violence and bears the brunt of the so called their male counterparts.  The majority of the world still flows in the rivers of her tears come out of the agony which this male dominated society has created for them. Women are still being burnt, being killed in the name of honor; experiencing the mutilation/cutting of their body parts, being harassed sexually, morally, being forced to marry in early child hood or before maturity and many such kinds of violence which this noble being do not deserve to face.

Worsening Violence against Women:

There is no country in the world whether developed or developing where the violence / crime against the women does not happen. At least one-third woman killed every year by their intimate partner in the US. Every six hours a woman lost her life by an intimate partner in South Africa. In India on an average 22 women are murdered in dowry related cases every year.

Every day two women are killed in Guatemala. When we talk about human trafficking women constitutes 80% of all the people trafficked in a year and the worst is 79% are being trafficked for sex trade. In Thailand 10% of its GDP comes from Prostitution this has given rise to many anti social elements and AIDS threat on a much larger level. Majority of the staff are women.

More than 60 million women are child brides and majority of them are from South Asia and Sub- Saharan region where this heinous custom is still alive and being practice in distant hidden corners sometime even in the civilized corners of these regions.

1 out of 4 women suffers from violence during pregnancy worldwide leading to miscarriage, still birth and abortion the abuse involved the acts like kicking or punching on the abdomen faced by more than half of the women who suffers this kind of physical assault. In Brazil every 15 seconds women is harassed. In Ecuador 37% of the Perpetrators are teachers who sexually abuse adolescent girls. In England and Wales 100 women are killed each year by their intimate partners or ex partners.

During war, civil war, rioting women are the easiest targets who face the unwanted wrath of the mob. At the time of Rwandan Genocide approx 250000 – 500000 women and girls raped and killed in 1994 whereas 200000 women survived rape during Congo where they still face the high rate of violence against them as now it is a common say that “rape has now become a weapon of war” while the same number or more were killed due to rape and other sexual assault. This is done to destroy the targeted community.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo 5,000 cases of rape, corresponding to an average of 40 a day, were recorded in the Uvira area by women associations since October 2002. In Sierra Leone 94 per cent of displaced households surveyed had experienced sexual assaults, including rape, torture and sexual slavery, in Iraq at least 400 women and girls as young as eight were reported to have been raped in Baghdad during or after the war, since April 2003, every 14 days a Colombian woman is a victim of forced “disappearance”.

In a 2008 survey of 4,700 Afghan women, 87.2% had experienced at least one form of physical, sexual or psychological violence or forced marriage in their lifetimes and the situation is continued to be worsen due to the increase complexities of this banana republic which still faces the nexus of violence from all corners. One of the major causes in the increase in violence against women is the rise in human trafficking and illiteracy.

Whereas in Malaysia which portrays itself as a peaceful and prosperous civilized society women continues to suffer in the darker corners of this shining society where the violence against them rises with the change in year. Malaysian police’s statistics showed that the number of reported domestic violence cases went up by 505 from 3,264 in 2006 to 3,769 in 2008.

Between 15% of women in Japan and 70% of women in Ethiopia and Peru reported physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner; between 0.3–11.5% of women reported experiencing sexual violence by a non-partner; the first sexual experience for many women was reported as forced – 24% in rural Peru, 28% in Tanzania, 30% in rural Bangladesh, and 40% in South Africa.

In South Africa a study of people aged 13-23 years found that 42% of females reported being a victim of physical dating violence. Intimate partner and sexual violence are mostly perpetrated by men against girls and women. International studies reveal that approximately 20% of women report being victims of sexual violence as children.

According to WHO in Bolivia 17% of all women aged 20 years and over have experienced physical violence in the previous 12 months, whereas in Bangladesh 50% of all murders are of women by their partners while in New Zealand 20% of women reported being hit or physically abused by a male partner according to UNICEF.

In Pakistan 42% of women accept violence as part of their fate; 33% feel too helpless to stand up to it.  In the Russian Federation 36,000 women are beaten on a daily basis by their husband or partner, according to Russian non-governmental organizations. In Spain one woman every five days is killed by her male partner. About two women per week are killed by their partners in the United Kingdom.

In the USA a woman is raped every 90 seconds, in France 25,000 women are raped per year whereas if we talk about Turkey then 35.6% of women have experienced marital rape sometimes and 16.3% often. Whereas in Bosnia and Herzegovina 20,000 – 50,000 women were raped during five months of conflict in 1992 while in some villages of Kosovo 30%-50% of women of child bearing age were raped by Serbian force.

Want Change in the Mindset

So from the above mentioned reported data it has now proven as written earlier in the writing that no matter whether it is developed or under developed / developing women suffers from violence. Countless attempts have been made on judicial grounds and numerous campaigns have been launched to support the women empowerment but none has yielded results as expected because the mind sets of the society had never been targeted since the whole situation is just because of our undeveloped thought process which still sees the gender as the object previewed since the time un known without making difference as per the advancing world even in 21st century.

Until n unless we will not change our thinking and perceptions towards women we cannot guarantee a healthy and peaceful society to them. The whole life of a woman goes into a search of a perfect side for herself where she can be respected no matter whether she is a daughter, a girlfriend, wife, in law; mother but she faces the undeserved attitude of the biased society.

The feminine gender can be empowered only if she wants to position herself in the world dominated by those who deserve to be under her. A revolution can only be bring into reality of life if women herself lifts the lit flame in her own hands to fight for her rights and with an organized support of those who want to bring change in the cultural world who have never respected her leaving her alone to face the plight.  She should stand up for herself against the inhumane age old trends which had always forced her to remain under the feet of her own soul mate. Now women should start raising their voice against the crime which they face since the real justice can only be bring when she understands her rights must be made aware on a much large level so that those remain untouched and unaware about what’s happening around just living their lives in the isolated corners of the progressing world must be approached under a dedicated campaign designed exclusively for them who still breathes under darkness of crime against them.

Now the world should think about in a different and more reformed way so that whatever the mistakes were committed in the name of women upliftment should not be repeated again and must also works towards building an open mindset of the male dominated society getting rid from the unwanted perceptions against women. Reforms in the women empowerment line must be brought keeping in mind the entire scenario of the gender decline which women are being subject to and still facing the same with the growing numbers of crimes against them. This can only be tackle with the joint efforts from both gender sides of man and woman as the healthy society is that where the women lives a healthy and empowered life. The literacy of women must be prioritize especially in rural backward areas and must be made free which will help majority of the households to send their girls to schools and pursue their dreams free mindedly.

Pictures from Google.

Harmful Practices to the female body; Part 4 Female Infanticide

“I lay on my bed weak after childbirth. My mother-in-law picked up the baby and started feeding her milk. I knew what she was doing. I cried and tried to stop her. But she had already given her milk laced with yerakkam paal [the poisonous juice of the oleander plant]. Within minutes, the baby turned blue and died.”

This is just one of thousands of stories told by women giving birth to newborn girls. In the west were the mothers first reaction is to get the baby lied down n her chest so that mother and child bond together, women in India has to witness their baby taking their last breath. One of the popular methods of killing newborn girls is to use the oleander plant looking like a pleasant flower but a milky sap that if ingested, can be a deadly poison.

Female infanticide is the intentional killing of baby girls due to the preference for male babies at or soon after birth. This twisted custom was common in China during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) due to the overpopulation and the second half of the twentieth century due to the one child policy. The practice was so common in Greece of 200 BC that among the 6,000 families living in Delphi, only 1% had two daughters. Arabs before Islam used to kill their newborn daughters but was prohibited when Islam came (“And when the female (infant) buried alive (as the pagan Arabs used to do) shall be questioned; for what sin she was killed?”

Today, this practice is most common in China, Taiwan, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Caucasus (Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia), Artic (Inuit tribes especially) and some sub-Saharan African countries, among the Yanomani in Brazil, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan. Some methods used globally vary between starving her to death, suffocating her by wrapping her tightly in a quilt, poisoning her, strangling, drowning, or breaking her spinal cord by snapping it.

In India it made awareness to the international world when in the 19th century, when it was found out that in some villages in India, no girl babies were found at all and in other cities, there were 343 boys to 54 girls.

The reasons behind it are almost always cultural rather than directly religious. It remains as a head ache in the third world countries but two of the most populous countries are notoriously famous for the high number of killing newborn girls, China and India. In India, family and social pressures to produce a son are immense. In most regions, sons are desired for reasons related to kinship, inheritance, marriage, identity, status, economic

  • Earning power: Men are usually the main income-earners, either because they are more employable or earn higher wages for the same work, or because they are able to do more agricultural work in subsistence economies. Since male babies have a greater income potential, they are less likely to be killed.
  • Potential pensions: In many societies, parents depend on their children to look after them in old age. But in many of these cultures a girl leaves her parental family and joins her husband’s family when she marries. The result is that parents with sons gain extra resources for their old age, when their sons marry, while parents with daughters lose their ‘potential pensions’ when they marry and move away.
  • Dowry: Some girl babies are killed so that the family doesn’t have to pay a dowry when they get married. In Indian society it is tradition for the parents of the bride to give a dowry to the groom and his family. The dowry consists of large amounts of money and valuable goods. For families with several daughters this can be a serious financial burden.

Mothers are often helpless to do anything, having no rights over their children while the women on the husband’s side commit the killing. The methods used have been handed down from generation to generation and there is a variety of them. Babies are fed milk laced with the sap from poisonous plants or pesticides, given paddy (rice with its husk) to swallow, which will slit their throats, fed salt to increase their blood pressure, stuffed in clay pots, swallow poisonous powdered fertilizer while others were smothered with a wet towel, strangled or allowed to starve and dehydrate to death.

INDIA

According to census statistics, “From 972 females for every 1,000 males in 1901. The gender imbalance has tilted to 929 females per 1,000 males. These numbers shows a serious imbalance that over time will have serious consequences.

A study of Tamil Nadu by the Community Service Guild of Madras similarly found that “female infanticide was common” in the state, though only among Hindu (rather than Moslem or Christian) families. “Of the 1,250 families covered by the study, 740 had only one girl child and 249 agreed directly that they had done away with the unwanted girl child. More than 213 of the families had more than one male child whereas half the respondents had only one daughter.” (Malavika Karlekar, “The girl child in India: does she have any rights?,” Canadian Woman Studies, March 1995.)

Fetal Murder

The number of female babies killed by feticide is greater than the number killed by infanticide. Abortion is legal in India under certain conditions, but sex-selective abortions or female feticide is a crime.The missing status of innumerable women (more than 100 million women are reported to be missing worldwide) points toward female feticide, infanticide, and other forms of gender discrimination as resulting in the high mortality of females at most stages of life. Abortions are most common among rich couples who can afford ultrasound scans to illegally check their unborn baby’s sex according to a research done by the UNPF. At one point, several clinics have been closed as hundreds of foetuses were found outside.

All medical tests that can be used to determine the sex of the child have been banned in India, due to incidents of these tests being used to get rid of unwanted female children before birth. The selective abortion of female feotuses is most common in areas where cultural norms value male children over female children, especially in parts of People’s Republic of China, Korea, Taiwan, and India. A 2005 study estimated that over 90 million females were “missing” from the expected population in Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan, South Korea and Taiwan alone, and suggested that sex-selective abortion plays a role in this deficit.

In order to cope with the problem, the Indian state has taken some measures in Tamil Nadu for families with one or two daughters and no sons; if one of the parents undergoes sterilization, the government will grant the family $160 in aid per child as instalments as the girl goes through school. She will get a small golden ring and on her 20th birthday, $650 will be paid to serve as dowry or to pay the expenses of higher education. Another campaign driven by the Delhi government deposits 5,000 rupees ($202) in the name of a girl at the time of her birth and 25,000 more through her childhood as long as she stays in school.

Indian Girls Bear Dowry Burden

After birth, it is also usual for girls to eat less than boys and to eat when the male has finished his meal. In cases of illness, it is usual for boys to get more healthcare than girls and more money is spent on clothing for them rather than the girls.

2001 census reports show that Punjab and Haryana reported fewer than 900 girls per 1,000 boys. Like China, there is a strong son preference for various socio-economic reasons, such as the son being responsible for carrying on the family name and support in old age.

Families pay large sums in order to marry off their daughters. Although dowry was prohibited in 1961, newspaper reports illustrates that the phenomenon is continuing. There has also been escalation in dowry demands and related offenses such as harassment of the bride’s family, the acid burning of a bride, and even her murder. The advertisements for sex determination in the 1980s bore slogans like, “Pay five hundred now to save fifty thousand later.” The gender-based oppression of women in India starts at birth in the form of infanticide and feticide.

Going by a rough calculation, nearly 6,000 female babies must have been poisoned to death in Usilampatti taluk in the last decade and births are registered only if the deliveries take place in the hospitals. “There is also this widespread belief among the Kallars that if you kill a daughter, your next child will be a son.”

Many Kallar families realise that they are committing a crime, but they are convinced that, given their difficult circumstances, they are taking the only course open to them. A villager woman once said; “How can we poor people rear so many daughters in this painful dowry situation? The village panchayat and the village administrative officer have no right to investigate or interfere in our personal affairs. If I and my husband have the right to have a child, we also have the right to kill it if it happens to be a daughter, and we decide we cannot afford it. Outsiders and the Government have no right to poke their noses into this.” Her husband, Andi, concurred: “we have no money to keep our daughters alive.”

China

A missionary (and naturalist) observer in China the late 19th century interviewed 40 women over age 50 who reported having borne 183 sons and 175 daughters, of whom 126 sons but only 53 daughters survived to age 10; by their account, the women had destroyed 78 of their daughters.” (Coale and Banister, “Five Decades of Missing Females in China,” Demography, 31: 3 [August 1994], p. 472.)

According to Zeng et al., “The practice was largely forsaken in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s but the number of “missing” women showed a sharp upward trend in the 1980s, linked by almost all scholars to the “one-child policy” introduced by the Chinese government in 1979 to control spiralling population growth.

Jonathan Manthorpe reported a study by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, claiming that “the imbalance between the sexes is now so distorted that there are 111 million men in China — more than three times the population of Canada — who will not be able to find a wife.” As a result, the kidnapping and slave-trading of women has increased: “Since 1990, say official Chinese figures, 64,000 women — 8,000 a year on average — have been rescued by authorities from forced ‘marriages’. The number who have not been saved can only be guessed at. The thirst for women is so acute that the slave trader gangs are even reaching outside China to find merchandise. There are regular reports of women being abducted in such places as northern Vietnam to feed the demand in China.” (Jonathan Manthorpe, “China battles slave trading in women: Female infanticide fuels a brisk trade in wives,” The Vancouver Sun, January 11, 1999.)

Although the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) created laws to provide equal rights for women and men, female infanticide has increased dramatically since 1989 and the one child policy. This policy was created to prevent the increasing population and children born outside the plan would not be issued residence cards which would deny them education and other benefits. The parents would risk fines, salary cuts and even imprisonment.

The preference for male babies coupled with the “one child per couple” policy has led to an increase in female infanticide, the concealment of female births, sex-selective abortion, and the abandonment of infant girls. If parents choose to hide the birth of a daughter, she will have no legal existence. She will face difficulties receiving healthcare, education, and other state services.

Girls are less likely to be given adequate healthcare and nutrition than their the males. If abandoned or given up for adoption, Chinese infant girls risk horrible neglect and mistreatment in state orphanages. The infant girls spend their days tied to wicker “potty” chairs. They are provided with no toys, physical attention, or mental stimulation. Disease runs rampant in the orphanages, and an estimated one in five children die (Woods, Brian “The Dying Rooms Trust”).

The Chinese government has taken a number of steps to combat the practice of female infanticide, as well as promote and protect women’s rights. The Marriage Law and Women’s Protection Law prohibit female infanticide, and the latter prohibits discrimination against women who give birth to daughters.The Sex Selective Abortion Law and Maternal Health Care Law of 1994 were created to put an end to sex selective abortions, and the latter prohibits the use of medical technology to determine the gender of a fetus but unfortunately, the practice continues in China despite these efforts.

A crime against humanity

  • According to a recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
    up to 50 million girls and women are missing from India’ s population as a result of systematic gender discrimination in India.
  • In most countries in the world, there are approximately 105 female births for every 100 males.
  • In India, there are less than 93 women for every 100 men in the population.
  • The United Nations says an estimated 2,000 unborn girls are illegally aborted every day in India.
  • Upon marriage, a son makes a daughter-in-law an addition and asset to the family providing additional assistance in household work and brings an economic reward through dowry payments, while daughters get married off and merit an economic penalty through dowry charges.

The lack of education, low financial productivity and old customs and traditions have played a high role in this crime. Although many young people try to defy this act, you can still find female infanticide in every part of the country. Not only in the villages and poor areas but among rich families who desire a son.

This human rights violation of denying birth to a female child or not allowing her to live because she is a female is a crime. It not only affects the communities it also impacts in many ways on the national and international communities where female infanticide and feticide may not occur. Social unrest as a result of the disproportionate female and male gender ratio may manifest itself as crime in these societies, such as, the kidnapping of young women, forced marriages, sex crimes, wife purchasing, frustration-related psychological problems, and an increase in prostitution. Sadly some of these effects have already been reported in China.

Alarming Facts:

  • In 1992 Amartya Sen calculated that 37 million women were ‘missing’ in India . The UN in 2001 estimated that there were 44 million missing women in India.
  • A report by Palash Kumar published on Dec. 15, 2006 says India Has Killed 10 Million Girls in 20 Years. The report says “Ten million girls have been killed by their parents in India in the past 20 years, either before they were born or immediately after, a government minister said, describing it as a “national crisis”.
  • Punjab loses every fourth girl. “By the 2011 census, we would be killing off 10 lakh (1,000,000) girls a year.” (Stop Murdering The Girl Child, Tribune, Correspondent or Reporter, Sep 26, 2007)
  • Every year in India, an estimated 500,000 female foetuses are aborted because they are female.
  • In Tamil Nadu recent analysis of statistics indicates a shortfall of about 13,000 daughters per year, 67% due to pre-birth deficit which suggests a high rate of female foeticide and 33% due to infanticide, and neglect.
  • Data compiled for 2008 by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) showed that there were 8,172 dowry deaths in the country, and for the same year, there were 81,344 cases of cruelty towards women by husbands and relatives. The actual numbers are probably much higher since many cases go unreported, or are reported as suicide.

What can be done?

Eliminating the practice requires changes in the way girls and women are valued by society. In India, UNFPA supports the Government in a comprehensive approach that includes building media interest, creating community-based networks to advocate against the practice, sensitizing health providers and involving youth and other key stakeholders. In Haryana State, where the sex ratio imbalance is one of the highest, function as women’s social action groups that promote the rights of daughters. These groups have convinced families and doctors not to practice sex selection.

Following a campaign by health and human rights activists, legal measures to ban the use of prenatal diagnostic techniques for sex selection were first passed in the Indian state of Maharashtra in 1986. Among the advocates against female infanticide were United Nations organizations, including UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO, who were working alongside international NGOs and India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

1. Support legislation and organizations that will increase access to education for girls. When more girls become educated there will be more opportunity for them to achieve success and for there to be more value placed on women and girls in society.
2. Outreach to health professionals, young women and men about stopping this practice In rural areas, poverty, lack of education, economic resources and inadequate healthcare facilities lead to the killing of infant girls whereas in urban areas selective abortion is commonly employed by individuals with access to modern technology that allows for early sex detection.

Russian journalists fear for their life

Journalists and media workers all over the world have been targeted every day all over the world for their work to cover important happenings and to report it to the public. They have been experiencing torture, beating and murder and most of the crimes go unpunished.

A joint report says that since 1993, more than 300 journalists have been killed in Russia with only 52 of the murders with confirmed motive.

Novaya Gazeta

Novaya Gazeta was founded in April 1993 of former journalist from Komsomolskaja Pravda. It is published 4 times a week in 14 Russian cities. This is one of the few Russian newspapers that are critical towards Kremlin and has been known for its journalism about the Chechen conflict. In June 2006, the former President in the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbatsjov and the representative Aleksandr Lebedev bought 49% of the newspapers stocks. The rest of 51% is owed by the editorial collective. Gorbatsjov has supported the newspaper from it was founded and it has been said that he used some of the money he got from the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 to establish it. Unfortunately in the last 10 years, 5 journalists working for Novaya Gazeta been killed.

The first thing Vladimir Putin did when he became President in 2000 was to go to war against Chechnya and also against the freedom of speech. Even if everybody has internet, the freedom of speech is almost none existing. According to journalist Elena Milashina in Novaya Gazeta says that the freedom to travel abroad, that there is still open borders is the last thing left of the freedom of speech, a last sign of democracy according to her.

Elena Kostyuchenko works also at Novaya Gazeta with criminality as specialty. “The worst part is not the threats, but the phone calls from Kremlin telling us what to do and what not to do and to think about our murdered colleagues. We ask ourselves; who is next? We try not to think about it and continue our work.” The sensor is the most important media law as they always call and warn journalists of what they can write about and not to write. Many journalists have no choice to follow this rule and get paid.

Anna Politkovskaja


The journalist in Novaya Gazeta, Anna Politkovskaja gave a truthful picture of Russia through her 15 years of the bloody wars in Chechnya and North Caucasus. October 7th 2006, she was executed with several gunshots outside her apartment in Moscow.

Anna Politkovskaja was known for her opposition to the Chechen conflict and for her criticism of then Russian President Vladimir Putin. She wrote several books about the Russian and Chechen wars including the book Putin’s Russia. Her murder occurred on Vladimir Putin’s birthday and was describes as a contract killing.

The Russian government is playing double standard when it comes to journalism. They want the journalists to be the puppy of the government and write exactly what the government wants them to write. Others who want to give a true picture of the situation pay with their lives.

Dark future for paper

The paper version of the newspaper is currently under pressure as they publish 200,000 newspapers in 14 cities 4 times a week. The future looks dark for the paper version but bright at the internet. The newspaper has most readers between 30 and 50 years that are educated. Now, the new major in Moscow has imposed that the small avis kiosks are going to be removed and banned. This will hit the Novaya Gazeta hard as the avis kiosk is the most important income source. They don’t have many ads because the companies fear to publish their companies’ names as the Kremlin also calls them with warnings. Instead, the government has offered the Newspaper to sell through new newspaper in wending machines. These newspaper wending machines have space for a total of 1200 examples in a city with 16 million residents.

Albinos the victims in Africa

A six-year-old albino girl in Burundi has been found dead with her head and limbs removed, in the latest killing linked to ritual medicine. Albinos in the region have been targeted because of a belief peddled by witchdoctors that their body parts can be used for magic potions. The girl, who was attacked, was the sixth person with albinism to be killed in Burundi since September. Armed attackers broke into the family home and tied up the girl’s parents before shooting her in the head, local officials say.

Tanzania is also a country in Africa were albinos are targeted and killed the moment they are spotted. Only the past year 25 albinos were murdered here. Since 2007, 44 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and 14 others have been slain in Burundi, sparking widespread fear among albinos in East Africa. At least 10,000 have been displaced or gone into hiding since the killings began, according to a report released this week by the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies.

The head of the Burundi Albinos’ Association, Kasim Kazungu, says people with albinism had not suffered any discrimination until other Burundians heard about the lucrative trade in albino body parts in neighboring Tanzania. Not long ago police officers in south-western Tanzania arrested a man who was attempting to sell his albino wife to Congolese traders and two mothers in western Tanzania were also attacked with machetes after gangs failed to find their albino children.

The latest victim was a seven-month-old baby. He was mutilated on the orders of a witchdoctor peddling the belief that potions made from an albino’s legs, hair, hands, and blood can make a person rich. Sorcery and the occult maintain a strong foothold in this part of the world, especially in the remote rural areas around the fishing and mining regions of Mwanza, on the shores of Lake Victoria. Once these poor albinos would seek protection from the sun to avoid skin cancer, now they have to go into hiding just to simply survive and avoid being cut in pieces.

Nobody seems to know why the killings are happening now, but Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete is now putting pressure on the police to identify where albinos live and offer them protection but it seems like it’s not going to be easy as long as the witchdoctors persuade people to bring albino body parts.

Albinism

Albinism is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of an enzyme involved in the production of melanin. Albinism results from inheritance of recessive gene alleles and is known to affect all vertebrates, including humans. The most common term used for an organism affected by albinism is “albino”. Albinism is associated with a number of vision defects, such as photophobia, nystagmus and astigmatism and lack of skin pigmentation makes the organism more susceptible to sunburn and skin cancers.

We want your legs!

The last adult albino to be murdered was Nyerere Rutahiro. He was eating dinner outside in his rural compound, when a gang of four strangers burst in, and threatened to arrest him. As his wife Susannah looked on helplessly, the men began to hack at Nyerere’s arms and legs with machetes. “We want your legs,” they shouted, “We want your legs,” his wife recalls, still deeply traumatized by what she saw. Nyerere was targeted for being albino but he was human in the end and died a horrifying death. He was a man in his 50s, father of two and working as a farmer just like the others in the same area. His body was laid to rest in a cement-sealed grave to protect against grave robbers who often steal body parts of the dead to give to witchdoctors.

Nyerere is buried in a cementgrave

This is the work of organized gangs, according to Tanzanian police in the capital Dar as Salaam. Witchdoctors, middlemen and the clients who pay for albino body parts are among the 173 people in custody so far for these macabre killings but none has been prosecuted.

Ostracised

The sad reality is that albinos, who can afford it, are now flocking to urban centres where they feel a little safer. African albinos endure insults, discrimination and segregation throughout their lives. They also have a high risk of contracting skin cancer in a region where many jobs are outdoors.

Away from the wards, under the shade of a mango tree, a black woman sits with her albino daughter. Ashura and Amina, her angelic looking 9 year old. They may seem an odd couple at first, but the firm eyes of the mother reveals a woman deeply protective of her child. She is a woman who looks older than her years. Ashura and Amina now live on their own, ostracised by the rest of their family. “When Amina was born my husband and the older two children moved away,” recounts Ashura. “They were so ashamed and thought Amina would bring us bad luck, but I am not leaving her, she’s my daughter,” Ashura say.

Every parent nurturing an albino child has good reason to be frightened in today’s Tanzania. The stories of youngsters being snatched from their parents’ arms or attacked on the way to school are horrific but a part of reality.

Mary Owido, 36 years old and mother of 6 lacks pigment that gives color to skin, eyes and hair, says she is only comfortable when at work or at home with her husband and children.”Wherever I go people start talking about me, saying that my legs and hands can fetch a fortune in Tanzania,” she says. “This kind of talk scares me. I am afraid of going out alone.”

The surge in the use of albino body parts as good luck charms is a result of “a kind of marketing exercise by witch doctors,” the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies said. The report says the market for albino parts exists mainly in Tanzania, where a complete set of body parts including all limbs, genitals, ears, tongue and nose can sell for $75,000. Wealthy buyers use the parts as talismans to bring them wealth and good fortune.

Many fathers in denial
Almost 90 percent of albinos living in the region were raised by single mothers, because the fathers believed their wives were having affairs with white men. Some African communities believe that albinos are harbingers of disaster, while others mistakenly think albinos are mentally retarded and discourage their parents from taking them to school, saying it’s a waste of money. This resembles the witch-hunt that took place in the middle ages were women and girls would be burned at the stake accused of being witches.

Due to a lack of education, many albinos are illiterate and are forced into menial jobs, exposing them to the sun and skin cancer and those who manage to finish school face discrimination in the work place and are never considered for promotions. But one thing is positive and that is that before people would not dare to speak about albinism and would always keep silence. Today, everybody is talking about it and hopefully things will change so that these people can live as a part of the community and not as outcasts.

Tag Cloud