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The Social Network

We all have access to computer and internet today. Some of us use it related to work, others for study and the third just to be online and social. We all hear the message and advice; “build social network.” It is a great way to introduce and to meet new people that might be useful and important to us.

Let us think about our daily life. Communication with colleagues, customers, clients and some friends happens through social network places or emails. We read news on the internet instead of buying newspaper as before. Information is searched on the internet, discussions happens in forums online and invitations and advertisements happens through various web pages. And then there is the e books that are sold online that are scaring the booksellers all over the world.

When we apply for a job, we are told to send the application and cv as email. For those who don’t have time to study at university or college because of job or children, apply to internet studies. Post offices, banks and other institutions have much information and application forms available online so that you don’t have to move outside the home. When we want to speak with our friends, we tend to chat with them.

This week, the post office in Norway introduced digital mailbox to the citizens. Now we don’t even have to walk out our door to check the mailbox, but log onto the internet and see what mail we have. We will also be able to send, receive, manage and archive important mail on our account that is as safe as using online bank. 2 days after the launch, the Digi mail had 40,000 users.

But what is the purpose of internet? The mission is to share information fast and to far destinations as possible where it will be available for many. The more the information is shared, the more we need to add.

Numbers from World internet usage data from June 30, 2010 has put together statistics from each region of population and internet users.

Region                         Population (estimate 2010)     Internet users, dec 30, 2010

Africa                                        1,013,779,050                    4,514,400

Asia                                            3,834,792,852                    114,304,000

Europe                                      813,319,511                          105,096,093

Middle East                            212,336,924                         3,284,800

North America                     344,124,450                        108,096,800

Latin America                       592,556,972                         18,068,919

Oceania / Australia            34,700,201                           7,620,480

WORLD TOTAL                  6,845,609,960                    360,985,492

Facebook – the anti-social network


The power Facebook has seized today is unbelievable. It has become a part of most people’s daily life. Some use it to keep in touch with family and friends and to post pictures and share information like a dairy or blog. Others use it simply for marketing as it is a goldmine for marketers.

Statistics from Facebook shows that there are:

  • More than 500 million active users
  • 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • 70% of the users are outside the United States

What are the positive and negative aspects of Facebook?

As for the positive aspects, we are able to track down friends and family that we wouldn’t have found so easily and we can keep in touch with each other much better rather than using other ways. Second, others use it to promote their work and find clients and customers. Marketing has become a huge thing and we use it intensively by posting ads on our wall, sending messages and creating various groups.

But for the negative aspects, unfortunately we cannot trust everybody with the information that it is shared. Some people create false profiles or write false information to attract friends. We add or send request to people we don’t know to expand our network for various reasons and this point can actually be both good and bad.

Like or dislike?

There are millions of reasons that can make us unhappy, but a research from the Stanford University called; “Misery has more company than people think” that was published in the scientist magazine Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in January 2011.

Alex Jordan, who was a PhD student at the time at Stanford, found out that people constantly undervalued how miserable others were. Alex Jordan got the idea for the research after observing his friends reactions on Facebook. He especially did notice that his friends seemed unhappy with themselves after logging in and browsed through others happy statuses, photos and achievements. They all seemed to believe that everybody else had a perfect life.

But the importance of feeling or being better than everybody else is affecting women more than men. According to Slate.com, the last year women’s happiness has been lower than ever. Meghan O’Rourke and 2 economists from University of Pennsylvania studied the difference of happiness of men and women. What the economists found out that the increasing possibilities to succeed in many different ways for the women have led to probability that their own life is not good enough. Women are especially targeted as there are more female than male users on Facebook, and the females are more active according to Forbes.

University of Texas in Austin has revealed results showing that men use Facebook mostly for sharing information associated with news or work/marketing while women often use it for personal communication such as posting pictures, videos and share it with family and friends. This kind of things easily make women more unhappy as for another example from last fall when Washington Post had a an article about women with fertility problems who couldn’t avoid to see and read the happy news from their friends who had babies.

In the end, I want to refer to a quote from the philosopher named Montesquieu (1689-1755);

We wish to be happier than others, and this is difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.

International World Tuberculosis Day, 24th March

24th March every year is the World Tuberculosis day designed to spread awareness about the global epidemic of tuberculosis and efforts to eliminate the disease. Today, this disease causes the deaths of about 1,6 million people each year, mostly in the third world.

The reason that it is on 24th March is because the day commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB Bacillus. By the time of the announcement in Berlin, Europe and Americas was already being raged by the TB-virus causing the death of every one out of seven people.

In 1982, on the 100th anniversary of Robert Koch’s presentation, the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) proposed that March 24th would be proclaimed as an official World TB Day.

Signs and symptoms

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When the disease becomes active in the human body, 75% of the cases are pulmonary TB, that is, TB in the lungs. The symptoms include; chest pain, coughing up blood, and a productive, prolonged cough for more than three weeks. Systemic symptoms include fever, chills, night sweats, appetite loss, weight loss, pallor, and fatigue. Tuberculosis also has a specific odour attached to it; this has led to trained animals being used to vet samples as a method of early detection.

In the other 25% of active cases, the infection moves from the lungs, causing other kinds of TB, collectively denoted extra pulmonary tuberculosis. This occurs more commonly in immunosuppressed persons and young children. Extra pulmonary infection sites include the pleura in tuberculosis pleurisy, the central nervous system in meningitis, the lymphatic system in scrofula of the neck, the genitourinary system in urogenital tuberculosis, and bones and joints in Pott’s disease of the spine.

Causes

The cause of TB, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), is a small aerobic non-motile bacillus. High lipid content of this pathogen accounts for many of its unique clinical characteristics. It divides every 16 to 20 hours, an extremely slow rate compared with other bacteria, which usually divide in less than an hour.

Epidemiology

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A third of the world’s population has been infected with M. tuberculosis, and new infections occur at a rate of one per second. However, not all infections with M. tuberculosis cause TB disease and many infections are asymptomatic. In 2007, an estimated 13.7 million people had active TB disease, with 9.3 million new cases and 1.8 million deaths; the annual incidence rate varied from 363 per 100,000 in Africa to 32 per 100,000 in the Americas. Tuberculosis is the world’s greatest infectious killer of women of reproductive age and the leading cause of death among people with HIV/AIDS.

In 2007, the country with the highest estimated incidence rate of TB was Swaziland, with 1200 cases per 100,000 people. India had the largest total incidence, with an estimated 2.0 million new cases. The Philippines ranks fourth in the world for the number of cases of tuberculosis and has the highest number of cases per head in Southeast Asia. Almost two thirds of Filipinos have tuberculosis, and up to an additional five million people are infected yearly. In developed countries, tuberculosis is less common and is mainly an urban disease. In the United Kingdom, the national average was 15 per 100,000 in 2007, and the highest incidence rates in Western Europe were 30 per 100,000 in Portugal and Spain. These rates compared with 98 per 100,000 in China and 48 per 100,000 in Brazil. In the United States, the overall tuberculosis case rate was 4 per 100,000 persons in 2007. In Canada tuberculosis is still endemic in some rural areas. The incidence of TB varies with age. In Africa, TB primarily affects adolescents and young adults, however, in countries where TB has gone from high to low incidence, such as the United States, it is mainly a disease of elder people, or of the immunocopromised.

What are the main causes of TB?

There are a number of known factors that make people more susceptible to TB infection such as HIV. Co-infection with HIV is a particular problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, due to the high incidence of HIV in these countries. Smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day also increases the risk of TB by two to four times. Diabetes mellitus is also an important risk factor that is growing in importance in developing countries. Other disease states that increase the risk of developing tuberculosis are Hodgkin lymphoma, end-stage renal disease, chronic lung disease, malnutrition, and alcoholism.

Diet may also modulate risk. For example, among immigrants in London from the Indian subcontinent, vegetarian Hindu Asians were found to have an 8.5 fold increased risk of tuberculosis, compared to Muslims who ate meat and fish daily. Although a causal link is not proved by this data, this increased risk could be caused by micronutrient deficiencies: possibly iron, vitamin B12 or vitamin D. Further studies have provided more evidence of a link between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of contracting tuberculosis. Globally, the severe malnutrition common in parts of the developing world causes a large increase in the risk of developing active tuberculosis, due to its damaging effects on the immune system. Along with overcrowding, poor nutrition may contribute to the strong link observed between tuberculosis and poverty.

Prisoners, especially in poor countries, are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and TB. Prisons provide conditions that allow TB to spread rapidly, due to overcrowding, poor nutrition and a lack of health services. Since the early 1990s, TB outbreaks have been reported in prisons in many countries in Eastern Europe. The prevalence of TB in prisons is much higher than among the general population, in some countries as much as 40 times higher.

Robert Koch

Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch (11 December 1843 – 27 May 1910) was a Prussian physician. He became famous for isolating Bacillus anthracis (1877), the Tuberculosis bacillus (1882) and the Vibrio cholerae (1883) and for his development of Koch’s postulates. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his tuberculosis findings in 1905 and considered one of the founders of microbiology,

Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch was born in Clausthal, Prussia one of the German states as the son of a mining official. He studied medicine under Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle at the University of Göttingen and graduated in 1866. He then served in the Franco-Prussian War and later became district medical officer, Wollstein (Wolsztyn), Prussian Poland. Working with very limited resources, he became one of the founders of bacteriology, the other major figure being Louis Pasteur. After Casimir Davaine showed the direct transmission of the anthrax bacillus between cows, Koch studied anthrax more closely. He invented methods to purify the bacillus from blood samples and grow pure cultures. He found that, while it could not survive outside a host for long, anthrax built persisting endospores that could last a long time. These endospores, embedded in soil, were the cause of unexplained “spontaneous” outbreaks of anthrax. Koch published his findings in 1876, and was rewarded with a job at the Imperial Health Office in Berlin in 1880. In 1881, he urged the sterilization of surgical instruments using heat.

In Berlin, he improved the methods he used in Wollstein, including staining and purification techniques, and bacterial growth media, including agar plates (thanks to the advice of Angelina and Walther Hesse) and the Petri dish, named after its inventor, his assistant Julius Richard Petri and these devices are still used today. With these techniques, he was able to discover the bacterium causing tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) in 1882 (he announced the discovery on 24 March). Tuberculosis was the cause of one in seven deaths in the mid-19th century.

In 1885, he became professor of hygiene at the University of Berlin, then in 1891 he was made Honorary Professor of the medical faculty and Director of the new Prussian Institute for Infectious Diseases (eventually renamed as the Robert Koch Institute), a position from which he resigned in 1904. He started traveling around the world, studying diseases in South Africa, India, and Java. He visited what is now called the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI), Mukteshwar on request of the then Government of India to investigate on cattle plague. The microscope used by him during that period was kept in the museum maintained by IVRI. Probably as important as his work on tuberculosis, for which he was awarded a Nobel Prize (1905), are Koch’s postulates, which say that to establish that an organism is the cause of a disease, it must be:

  • found in all cases of the disease examined
  • prepared and maintained in a pure culture
  • capable of producing the original infection, even after several generations in culture
  • Retrievable from an inoculated animal and cultured again.

Koch’s pupils found the organisms responsible for diphtheria, typhoid, pneumonia, gonorrhoea, cerebrospinal meningitis, leprosy, bubonic plague, tetanus, and syphilis, among others, by using his methods.

Robert Koch died on 27 May 1910 from a heart-attack in Baden-Baden, aged 66.

Source info; Wikipedia

Human trafficking and modern day slavery

Trafficking has become a lucrative industry and is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Globally, it is tied with the illegal trade, as the second largest criminal activity, followed by the drug trade. Human trafficking usually affects women and children more than it affects men. Sex trafficking is nothing less than slavery because when an offender takes a woman or girl against her will and forces her to engage in prostitution, he not only sells her body but also her freedom and dignity. Much sex trafficking is international, with victims being taken from places such as South and Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union, Central and South America, and other less-developed areas to more developed places including Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America. Those who profit from victimizing children and adults in the sex trade are only one half of the problem. The other half is those who patronize this industry.

The total annual revenue for trafficking in persons is estimated to be between USD$5 billion and $9 billion. The Council of Europe states, “People trafficking have reached epidemic proportions over the past decade, with a global annual market of about $42.5 billion,” and The United Nations estimates nearly 2.5 million people from 127 different countries are being trafficked around the world.

Human trafficking differs from people smuggling. As for smuggling, people voluntarily request or hire an individual, known as a smuggler, to transport them from one country to another, where legal entry would be denied upon arrival at the international border. After entry into the country and arrival at their destination, the smuggled person is free to find their own way, while smuggling requires travel, trafficking does not. Victims of human trafficking are not permitted to leave upon arrival at their destination, they are held against their will through acts of coercion and forced to work or provide services to the trafficker or others. The work includes anything from bonded or forced labor to commercialized sexual exploitation.

1. How Does Human Trafficking Take Place?

Traffickers find their victims from developing countries where poverty is widespread, commonly through force or deception. The victims are typically very young, from 8 to 18 years old and some as young as 4 or 5 years old. A common scenario involves a poor Asian or Eastern European girl who is offered a “better life” as a housemaid, restaurant server or dancer in a wealthy country such as the United States, Great Britain, or Italy. As she arrives, her passport is taken away, she is physically and sexually abused and forced into prostitution in a country where she neither speaks the language nor have any friends nor relatives. She is forced to service 8-15 clients a day and does not receive any pay as she is told that the money is used to pay off her “debt” to the trafficker and brothel owners for transportation, food, lodging and so on. After some period of time, she will be resold to another brothel owner, often in another country, and the cycle will continue all over again. She is likely to acquire HIV/AIDS, and to pass it on to her clients and their wives, all around the world. She has a greater chance than most of dying early, and is certain to live a horrible existence in whatever short years she has. Even if she is eventually rescued and repatriated to her country and community, she is likely to be ostracized as a result of her involvement in prostitution.

Government and police corruption, primarily in under-developed countries, play a large role in the perpetuation of the sex slave industry, with blind-eyes being turned toward openly active brothels and payoffs being accepted by those officials charged with the enforcement of national and international laws prohibiting trafficking, prostitution and child sexual exploitation.

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2. Types of labor work

Bonded labor, or debt bondage, is probably the least known form of labor trafficking today, and yet it is the most widely used method of enslaving people. Victims become bonded laborers when their labor is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan or service in which its terms and conditions have not been defined or in which the value of the victims’ services as reasonably assessed is not applied toward the liquidation of the debt. The value of their work is greater than the original sum of money “borrowed.”

Forced labor is when victims are forced to work against their own will, under the threat of violence or some other form of punishment, their freedom is restricted and a degree of ownership is exerted. Men are at risk of being trafficked for unskilled work, which globally generates $31bn according to the International Labor Organization. Forms of forced labor can include domestic servitude; agricultural labor; sweatshop factory labor; janitorial, food service and other service industry labor; and begging.

Sex trafficking victims are generally found in poor circumstances and easily targeted by traffickers. These circumstances include homeless individuals, runaway teens, displaced homemakers, refugees, and drug addicts. While it may seem like trafficked people are the most vulnerable and powerless minorities in a region, victims are consistently exploited from any ethnic and social background. Traffickers are known as pimps or madams, offers promises of marriage, employment, education, and/or an overall better life. However, in the end, traffickers force the victims to become prostitutes or work in the sex industry. Various works in the sex industry includes prostitution, dancing in strip clubs, performing in pornographic films and pornography, and other forms of involuntary servitude. Women are lured to accompany traffickers based on promises of lucrative opportunities unachievable in their native country. Most have been told lies regarding the financial arrangements and conditions of their employment and find themselves in coercive or abusive situations from which escape is both difficult and dangerous. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there were 1,229 human trafficking incidents in the United States from January 2007- September 2008. Of these, 83 % were sex trafficking cases.

Child labor is a form of work that is likely to be hazardous to the physical, mental, spiritual, moral, or social development of children and can interfere with their education. The International Labor Organization estimates worldwide that there are 246 million exploited children aged between 5 and 17 involved in debt bondage, forced recruitment for armed conflict, prostitution, pornography, the illegal drug trade, the illegal arms trade, and other illicit activities around the world.

3. Trafficking in children

Trafficking of children is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children can take many forms and include forcing a child into prostitution or other forms of sexual activity or child pornography. Child exploitation can also include forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, the removal of organs, illicit international adoption, trafficking for early marriage, recruitment as child soldiers, for use in begging or as athletes (such as child camel jockeys or football players), or for recruitment for cults.

Thailand and Brazil are considered to have the worst child sex trafficking records. One of the major reasons is the parent’s extreme poverty where they sell their children in order to pay debts or gain income. Some is deceived that the traffickers will give a better life and education for their children. The adoption process, legal or illegal, can sometimes result in cases of trafficking of babies and pregnant women between the West and the developing world. Thousands of children from Asia, Africa, and South America are sold into the global sex trade every year. Often they are kidnapped or orphaned, and sometimes they are actually sold by their own families.

Trafficking victims are also exposed to different psychological problems. They suffer social alienation in the host and home countries. Stigmatization, social exclusion and intolerance make reintegration into local communities difficult. The governments offer little assistance and social services to trafficked victims upon their return.

4. Global nature of the problem

Sex trafficking is global in nature and the victims come from all developing countries and are trafficked into or through virtually all developing and developed countries. It is estimated, for example, that 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States every year, most of who are sold into prostitution. This is not dependent on nationality, race or religion and not on economic or social standing. The one substantial difference is that it is the wealthy countries – through their military, businessmen, tourists, and Internet pornography subscribers, all of whom pay significantly more for the use of a sex slave that keeps this criminal industry extremely profitable for traffickers.

Trafficking does not only occur in poor countries, but in fact in every country. A source country is a country where people are trafficked and these countries are often weakened by poverty, war, corruption, natural disasters or climate. Some examples of source countries are Nepal, Guatemala, and the former Soviet Union, Nigeria, Thailand, China, Albania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine and many more. Then there is transit country where the victims are enslaved and the destination country is where the victim ends up. Japan, India, much of Western Europe, and the United States are all destination countries and the most common destinations for victims of human trafficking are Thailand, Japan, Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the US, according to a report by the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime).

Almost every human trafficking prevention organization works to spread public awareness of trafficking. Several methods have been used to achieve public awareness, and while some produce little results, others have succeeded in persuading governments to pass laws and regulations on human trafficking. By pushing the issue of human trafficking into the public eye through the media, organizations work to educate the general public about the dangers of being trafficked and practices of preventing individuals from being trafficked. Television, magazines, newspapers, and radio are all used to warn and educate the public by providing statistics, scenarios, and general information on the subject.

Regardless of the type of human trafficking, nearly 1 in 5 of its victims was children, according to various reports. Their innocence is abused for begging, or exploited for sex as prostitutes, pedophilia or child pornography. Others are sold as child brides or camel jockeys.”

In a 2008 report on human trafficking, the U.S. State Department listed Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia as destination countries with widespread trafficking abuses, particularly forced laborers trafficked from Asia and Africa who are subject to restrictions on movement, withholding of passports, threats and physical and sexual abuse. The report found those countries made feeble efforts to rescue victims and prosecute traffickers. The department’s report also says slave labor in developing countries such as Brazil, China and India was fueling part of their huge economic growth. Other countries on the blacklist were Algeria, Cuba, Fiji, Iran, Myanmar, Moldova, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Sudan and Syria.

According to the Report, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. In Central Asia and Eastern Europe, women make up more than 60 percent of those convicted of trafficking. The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labor, or slavery, making up 18 percent of the total, although the writers of the report say it may be underreported. Surprisingly, in 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labour counting 18 %. Worldwide, almost 20% of all trafficking victims are children. However, in some parts of Africa and the Mekong region, children are the majority, up to 100% in parts of West Africa.

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5. War and abuse

Women and girls in war zones are especially touched by the ugly side of war. They are not able to defend themselves and after being abused or sold they are stigmatized in their communities besides ending up pregnant or with HIV/AIDS.

In August 2001, soldiers with the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Eritrea were purchasing 10 year old girls for sex in local hotels.

Before the arrival of 15,000 UN troops in Cambodia in 1991, there were an estimated 1,000 prostitutes in the capital. Currently, Cambodia’s illegal sex trade generates $500 million a year. No less than 55,000 women and children are sex slaves in Cambodia, 35 percent of which are younger than 18 years of age.

Over 5,000 women and children have been trafficked from the Philippines, Russia and Eastern Europe and are forced into prostitution in bars servicing the U.S. Military in South Korea.

6. Children – lost innocence

  • Children from Pakistan and Bangladesh are kidnapped or sold by their parents to traffickers who take them to Persian Gulf States including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, to work as camel jockeys. These children are 3 to 7 years of age and kept malnourished to keep their weight below 35 pounds. They suffer physical abuse from the traffickers and work all day training camels. Many of these children do also suffer extreme injuries or death from falling off camels during the races.
  • Child victims of trafficking are very vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. Misconceptions that having sex with a virgin can cure HIV/AIDS have fueled an increased demand for child prostitutes.
  • Girls from 15 to 17 years of age are trafficked from Thailand and Taiwan to South Africa. Traffickers recruited these girls to work as waitresses or domestic workers and once they arrive to South Africa they are forced into prostitution.
  • Filipino children are trafficked to countries in Africa, the Middle East, Western Europe and Southeast Asia, where they are sexually exploited. Traffickers loan parents a sum of money, which the girl must repay to the trafficker through forced prostitution. In one case, a Filipino woman rented her 9-year-old niece to foreign men for sex, and eventually sold her to a German pedophile.
  • 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States from no less than 49 countries every year. As many as 750,000 women and children have been trafficked into the United States over the last decade.
  • Women and children as young as 14 have been trafficked from Mexico to Florida and forced to have sex with as many as 130 clients per week in a trailer park. These women were kept hostage through threats and physical abuse, and were beaten and forced to have abortions. One woman was locked in a closet for 15 days after trying to escape.
  • In Fresno, California Hmong gang members have kidnapped girls between the ages of 11 and 14 and forced into prostitution. The gang members would beat and rape them into submission. These girls were trafficked within the United States and traded between other Hmong communities.
  • The Cadena smuggling ring brings women and some are as young as 14, from Mexico to Florida. The victims were forced to prostitute themselves with as many as 130 men per week in a trailer park. Of the $25 charged, the women received only $3. The Cadena members keep the women hostage through threats and physical abuse and the women must work until they paid off their debts of $2,000 to $3,000.
  • Domestic servants in some countries of the Middle East are forced to work 12 to 16 hours a day with little or no pay, and subject to sexual abuse such as rape, forced abortions, and physical abuse that has resulted in death.
  • Traffickers in many countries in West Africa take girls through voodoo rituals in which girls take oaths of silence and are often raped and beaten, prior to their leaving the country. They are also forced to sign agreements stating that, once they arrive in another country, they owe the traffickers a set amount of money. They are sworn to secrecy and given detailed accounts of how they will be tortured if they break their promise. Traffickers have taken women and young girls to shrines and places of cultural or religious significance; they remove pubic and other hair and then perform a ceremony of intimidation.

7. Human trafficking and the facts

  • An estimated number of 700.000 to 4 million people are forced in forced labor (including the sex industry) as a result of trafficking. Of these are:
  • 1.4 million – 56% are in Asia and the Pacific
  • 250.000 – 10% are in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • 230.000 – 9.2% are in the Middle East and Northern Africa
  • 130.000 – 5.2% are in sub-Saharan countries
  • 270.000 – 10.8% are in industrialized countries
  • 200.000 – 8% are in countries in transitions
  • 161 countries are reported to be affected by human trafficking by being a source, transit or destination count. People are reported to be trafficked from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries, affecting every continent and every type of economy.
  • The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age and 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.
  • 95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence.
  • 43% of victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation of which 98% are women and girls.
  • 32% of victims are used for forced economical exploitation of which 56% are women and girls.
  • 52% of those recruiting females are men, 42% are women and 6% are both men and women.
  • In 54% of the cases, the recruiter was a stranger to the victim, 46% of the cases, the recruiter knew the victim.
  • Estimated global annual profits made from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labor are US$ 31.6 billion. Of this:
  • US$ 15.5 billion – 49% – is generated in industrialized economies
  • US$ 9.7 billion – 30.6% is generated in Asia and the Pacific
  • US$ 1.3 billion – 4.1% is generated in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • US$ 1.6 billion – 5% is generated in sub-Saharan Africa
  • US$ 1.5 billion – 4.7% is generated in the Middle east and North Africa

Click at the picture for a larger image (statistics from 2008-2009)

8. Slavery and sex-trade in the Arab world


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a destination for men and women, mostly from South and Southeast Asia, trafficked for the purposes of labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Migrant workers, who stand for more than 90% of the UAE’s private sector workforce, are recruited from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, China, and the Philippines. Women from some of these countries travel willingly to work as domestic servants or administrative staff, but some are victims of forced labor, including unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, or physical or sexual abuse. Men from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are drawn to the UAE for work in the construction sector, but are often subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude and debt bondage.

For the foreign female domestic workers, it is a life of isolation both physically, psychologically, socially and culturally. Some of these women live in abusive environments but others are able to live a little bit more socially. Under the law, once a foreign female worker enters a employers house, she is under his/her control since the employer is the visa sponsor. The employer bears total responsibility for his/her domestic workers and has total control over them. But during the first 3 months of the contract, both the employer and the employee have the right to contact the recruiting agency in order to report problems or to seek change in the status or employment of the foreign female domestic worker. Most recruiting agencies, however, do not encourage this practice, and often hide information from the foreign female domestic worker about their rights. The immigration regulations governing the status of domestic workers and the social practices towards foreign female domestic worker in the United Arab Emirates enslave them to their employers until the duration of their contract ends. Whether one is placed with a desirable or an undesirable employer is a matter of luck.

Saudi Arabia is a place for men and women from South East Asia and East Africa trafficked for the purpose of labor exploitation and forced begging for children from Yemen and Africa. Hundreds of thousands low skilled workers from India, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Kenya migrate voluntarily to Saudi Arabia to work. Many of these workers meet conditions of physical and sexual abuse, non-payment or delayed payment of wages, withholding of travel documents and restrictions on their freedom of movement.

Unfortunately, the government of Saudi Arabia has done little or almost nothing to eliminate trafficking and has lack of efforts to protect victims and prosecute those who are guilty of abuse. Some victims of abuse, chooses to leave the country rather than to confront their abusers in court and according to the law, they are required to file a complaint first before they can be allowed in any shelter. If a victim chooses to file a complaint, he/she is not allowed to work and the Saudi Government does in fat provide food and shelter for female workers who file report.

9. Iran – High profitable sex-trade


Iran has for 25 years, has enforced humiliating and punishments on women and girls, enslaved them in a system of segregation, forced veiling, second-class status, lashing, and stoning to death. Joining a global trend, in Tehran there has been a 635% increase in the number of teenage girls in prostitution. In Tehran, there are an estimated 84,000 women and girls in prostitution, many of them are on the streets, others are in the 250 brothels that exist in the city. The trade is also international as thousands of Iranian women and girls have been sold into sexual slavery abroad. The head of Iran’s Interpol bureau believes that the sex slave trade is one of the most profitable activities in Iran today and government officials themselves are involved in buying, selling, and sexually abusing women and girls.

Many of the girls come from poor families living in rural areas. Drug addiction has become epidemic throughout Iran, and some addicted parents sell their children to support their habits. There is also a problem with high unemployment, 28% for youth between 15-29 years of age and 43% for women between 15-20 years of age.

Popular destinations for victims of the slave trade are the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf because of the booming tourism and the good economy. According to the head of the Tehran province judiciary, traffickers target girls between 13 and 17 years old, although there are reports of some girls as young as 8. The victims are often physically punished and imprisoned besides being examined if they have engaged in “immoral activity.” Based on the findings, officials can ban them from leaving the country again.

Police have uncovered a number of prostitution and slavery rings operating from Tehran that have sold girls to France, Britain, Turkey, as well. One network based in Turkey bought smuggled Iranian women and girls, made fake passports, and transported them to European and Persian Gulf countries. In one case, a 16-year-old girl was smuggled to Turkey, and then sold to a 58-year-old European national for $20,000.

One factor contributing to the increase in prostitution and the sex slave trade is the number of teen girls who are running away from home for different reasons and 90% of girls who run away from home will end up in prostitution. As a result of runaways, in Tehran alone there are an estimated 25,000 street children, most of them girls. The perpetrators look after street children, runaways, and vulnerable high school girls in city parks and manage to convince them. In large cities, shelters have been set up to provide assistance for runaways but these places are often corrupt and run prostitution rings from the shelters. In one case, a woman was discovered selling Iranian girls to men in Persian Gulf countries; for four years, she had hunted down runaway girls and sold them. She even sold her own daughter for US$11,000.

For further information about the slave and sex trade and the work that is done to prevent, you can click into these links.

http://gvnet.com/humantrafficking/

http://www.humantrafficking.org/combat_trafficking/international_initiatives

Important Events on February 17

February 17Lantern Festival (Chinese calendar, 2011)

  • 1621 – Myles Standish was elected as the first commander of the Plymouth Colony militia, a position he would hold for the rest of his life.
  • 1872 – Mariano Gómez, José Apolonio Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora, collectively known as Gomburza (pictured), were executed inManila, Philippines, by Spanish colonial authorities on charges of subversion arising from the 1872 Cavite mutiny.
  • 1904 – Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly premiered at La Scala in Milan, generating negative reviews that forced him to rewrite the opera.
  • 1913 – In the U.S. National Guard’s 69th Regiment Armory in New York City, the Armory Show opened, introducing Americans to avant-garde and modern art.
  • 1964 – Gabonese military officers overthrew PresidentLéon M’ba, but France, honoring a 1960 treaty, forcibly reinstated M’ba the next day.
  • 2003 – The London congestion charge, a fee that is levied on motorists travelling within designated parts of London, came into operation in parts of Central London.

 

 

Peace in min(d)e?

In late 1980’s, a British sergeant went to Afghanistan to conduct emergency relief in a country that lay in ruins after years of Soviet occupation. His plan was to work on agricultural projects, but when he arrived he discovered something terrible. Across the country, the soil was full of hundreds of thousands of antipersonnel mines, which had intended to kill or maim anyone who would plow the soil. The former officer ended up starting the first program in the world to clear landmines.

Other organizations had worked for several years to raise enough artificial limbs to victims of land mines, but they felt that they should do more. Appalled by the results of what mines did to individuals and the community, the organizations began to form a joint organization to achieve a global ban. The formal launch happened in New York, in October 1992 and was named The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).

Their aim was to get an international ban on the use, production, storage and transfer of antipersonnel mines and increase resources for humanitarian response to the removal of landmines and assistance to victims.

Landmines are not only dangerous to enemies, but it’s very destructive towards civilians and the agricultural system, because when peace comes, the mines won’t recognize it. Many people get killed, and the survivors are left back with so much damage that they cannot function normally. In addition the mines make it impossible to cultivate the soil so that the country is deprived of food supply of food that is needed to survive.

What more does it take to get a total ban?

Land mines were designed for two main uses — to create tactical barriers, to act as area-denial weapons. The latter use seeks to deny access to land areas by military and civilian traffic. When used as a tactical barrier, they serve to deter direct attack from or over a defined and marked area. This is the stated reason for their use in the demilitarized zones of warm spots such as Cyprus and Korea.

The most important countries producing and stockpiling landmines that have not signed are China, India, the United States and Russia. The United States refuses to sign the treaty because it does not offer a “Korean exception”, as landmines are said to be a crucial component of the U.S. military strategy in South Korea. According to the US government, the one million mines along the DMZ between North and South help maintain the delicate peace by deterring a North Korean attack. The Ottawa Treaty or the Mine Ban Treaty, formally the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, bans completely all anti-personnel landmines (AP-mines). As of May 2009, there were 156 States Parties to the treaty. Two states have signed but not yet ratified it. Thirty-seven states, including China, India, Russia and the United States, are not party to the Convention.

Statesman of Egypt – Gamal Abdel Nasser

Born on Jan. 15, 1918: A graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Gamal Abdel Nasser first rose to prominence as an officer in the first Arab-Israeli war, where he gained recognition for holding out for three weeks in 1948 while his battalion was surrounded in what came to be known as the “Faluja Pocket”. While serving in the army, Nasser become the leader of a covert organization called the Free Officers whose goal was to overthrow the hereditary Egyptian royalty and free Egypt from British influence. These goals were accomplished in a 1952 coup d’etat which ended with King Farouk’s exile after Nasser vetoed his execution. Though he was the real leader of the new government, Nasser remained unknown to the public media until 1954 when he assumed the role of Prime Minister and published his book “Philosophy of the Revolution”, a call for pan-Arab resistance to imperialism. In 1956, Nasser proclaimed the adoption of “Arab Socialism” in Egypt and was elected almost unanimously to the office of Egyptian President. Later that year, Egypt nationalized the British-run Suez Canal to pay for a massive public works project, the Aswan High Dam. This invited an invasion of the Sinai Peninsula by Israel and the decimation of Egypt’s air force by British and French bombers, but also won Nasser the respect of many leaders of the “nonaligned” nations – countries which were allied with neither the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact nor the United States-headed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Further, the prevention of a full-scale British invasion by both a Soviet threat of nuclear war and a United States warning of further reprisals set the tone for “Third World” affairs for years to come, as Nasser had established that weaker states could keep their independence by playing NATO and the Warsaw Pact against each other. Nasser would continue as a major leader of the nonaligned states until his death in 1970; among his efforts at “small power” independence were his support of Kenya’s Mau Mau movement in the late 1950s and the periodic rallying of Arab states against foreign domination. As president, his record of success was decidedly mixed: he finally finished the Aswan High Dam with Soviet assistance in 1968, but was constantly frustrated in his struggle against Israel, including an embarrassing defeat in the Six-Day War of 1967. Though he is almost unanimously regarded as a hero in the Arab world (he was the recipient of one of the largest state funerals in the region’s history).

Dictators of Africa – Part 7

Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi Libya 1969 – present

Also known simply as Colonel Gaddafi; born 7 June 1942) has been the de facto leader of Libya since a coup in 1969. From 1972, when Gaddafi relinquished the title of prime minister, he has been accorded the honorifics “Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya” or “Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution” in government statements and the official press. With the death of Omar Bongo of Gabon on 8 June 2009, he became the longest serving of all current non-royal national leaders. He is also the longest-serving ruler of Libya since Libya, then Tripoli, became an Ottoman province in 1551.

Yahya Jammeh – Gambia – 1994–Present

President of Gambia. Gained power in coup d’état. Right to the press and free speech suppressed. Stood for three elections (1996, 2001, and 2006); last election deemed unfair by opposition.

Laurent-Désiré Kabila – Congo-Kinshasa – 1997–2001

President of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Overthrew Mobutu Sese Seko in coup. No elections held during ongoing, interstate First and Second Congo Wars.

Charles G. Taylor – Liberia – 1997–2003

President of Liberia 1997-2003. Elected, but widely described as a dictator. Linked to “blood diamonds” and illegal arms trading. Believed to have interfered frequently in the internal affairs of neighboring states while a warlord, before his election to the presidency.

François Bozizé – Central African Republic – 2003–present

President of the Central African Republic 2003 to date. Gained power in a coup and suspended the constitution, though he has restored some democracy.

Ely Ould Mohamed Vall – Mauritania – 2005–2007

Chairman of the Military Council for Justice and Democracy. Gained power via a military coup. Though he has said to relinquish power to an elected government in 2007.

 

Dictators of Africa – Part 3

Gnassingbé Eyadéma – Togo – 1967–2005

President of Togo. Gained power in a coup; never fought a contested election until 1998; banned tortured and killed opposition. Fostered a cult of personality that was reinforced after he was the sole survivor of an airplane crash in 1974. In late 1991, troops loyal to Eyadéma closed a constitutional conference that had shifted most executive power to a new transitional government and banned Eyadéma’s RPT party. January 1993 saw a mass exodus of residents to neighboring states after security forces fired on pro-democracy demonstrators. Further repression followed a purported 1994 coup attempt.

Omar Bongo – Gabon – 1967–2009

Chairman of the Military National Liberation Committee 1968-1969; Head of State 1969-1979; President of Mali 1979-1991. Seized power in a coup; banned all opposition; installed a police state; established one-party state in 1979.

Moussa Traoré – Mali – 1968–1991

As vice president, he acceded to the presidency following the death of President Léon M’ba. In 1968, Bongo decreed a one-party state under his Gabonese Democratic Party and was thrice elected unopposed in the 1970s and 1980s. He became very wealthy during the country’s oil boom. Open elections were held in 1990 and Bongo was re-elected in 1993, 1998 and 2005. Observers have criticized the elections as unfair and corruption watchdogs have accused the president of nepotism. Riots resulting from the mysterious death in 1990 of prominent dissident Joseph Rendjambe in a government hotel room were put down by French troops.

Francisco Macías Nguema – Equatorial Guinea – 1968–1979

President of Equatorial Guinea 1968-1979. Elected in 1968 but declared himself President for Life in 1972; “extreme personality cult”; over a third of population fled his regime. Banned fishing and sanctioned the deaths of most of his pre-independence political rivals, including ex-prime minister Bonifacio Ondó Edu and foreign minister Atanasio Ndongo Miyone. Declared an atheist state by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. As many as 50,000 civilians were killed, in particular those of the Bubi ethnic minority on Bioko associated with relative wealth and intellectualism.

Gaafar Nimeiry – Sudan – 1969–1985

Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council 1969-1971; President of Sudan 1971-1985. Gained power in a military coup, banned opposition, dissolved southern Sudanese government, imposed sharia law. Executed several leading communists (the most prominent being Abdel Khaliq Mahjub and Joseph Garang) after a botched 1971 coup attempt.

 

Dictators of Africa – Part 2

Felix Houphouët-Boigny – Côte d’Ivoire 1960–1993

President of Côte d’Ivoire. Ruled until 1990 with all opposition banned, but not considered particularly repressive. Relocated the official capital to his home village of Yamoussoukro and constructed the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, the largest religious structure in Africa.

Milton Obote – Uganda – 1962–1972, 1980–1985

Prime Minister of Uganda 1962-1966; President of Uganda 1966-1971 and 1980-1985. Suspended the constitution and declared himself President and Prime Minister in 1966.

Hastings Kamuzu Banda – Malawi – 1963–1994

Prime Minister of Malawi 1963-1966; President of Malawi 1966-1994. Banned all opposition in 1966; declared himself President for Life in 1971; exiled and killed opposition leaders. Ordered that a letter bomb be sent to exiled opposition leader Attati Mpakati; suspected of being involved in the car crash deaths of senior Congress Party leaders; violently crushed an attempted rebellion. Aged 98, he allowed and lost a free election in 1994.

Kenneth Kaunda – Zambia – 1964–1991

President of the Republic of Zambia 1964-1991.Elected 1964, banned all political parties in Zambia, viewed himself as “WAMUYAYA” (eternal President).Accused of torturing political opponents. Defeated by Frederick Chiluba in 1991.

Houari Boumediene – Algeria – 1965–1978

President of Algeria from June 19, 1965 to his death, (December 27, 1978); Chairman of the Revolutionary Council until December 12, 1976).

In June 1965, Boumédienne seized power in a bloodless coup. Initially lacking a personal power base, he was seen as a weak ruler. But after a botched coup attempt against him by military officers in 1967 he tightened his rule, and then remained Algeria’s undisputed ruler until his death in 1978.

Jean-Bédel Bokassa – Central African Republic – 1966–1979

President of the Central African Republic 1966-1976; Emperor Bokassa I of the Central African Empire 1976-1979. Bokassa overthrew the autocratic Dacko in a swift coup d’état and assumed power as president of the Republic and head of the sole political party, the Mouvement pour l’évolution sociale de l’Afrique Noire (MESAN). Bokassa abolished the constitution of 1959 on January 4 and began to rule by decree. He proclaimed himself emperor in 1976.


Some useful advice for travelers

LOCAL LAWS & CUSTOMS


Saudi Arabia

Relationships & Communication

Saudis do not require as much personal space as most western cultures. As such, they will stand close to you while conversing and you may feel as if your personal space has been violated. Hey also prefer to work with people they know and trust, but they will also spend a great deal of time on the getting-to-know-you part of relationship building, and the secret is to be patient. Since Saudis will most likely judge you on appearances, dress and present yourself well.

Business Meeting Etiquette

Appointments are necessary and should be made several weeks to one month in advance if it is possible. When meeting with government officials, a firm date will not be settled upon until you are physically in the country and try to schedule meetings in the morning. Remember to arrive at meetings on time, although it is an accepted custom to keep foreigners waiting. Meetings are generally not private until after a relationship of trust has been developed. This means you may expect frequent interruptions as others may wander into the room and start a different discussion. You may join in, but do not try to bring the topic back to the original discussion until the new person leaves. Business meetings start after prolonged inquiries about health, family, etc. Never inquire about a Saudi’s wife.

Business Negotiating

Decisions are made slowly, so do not try to rush the process because the society is very bureaucratic and most decisions require several layers of approval as several visits to accomplish simple tasks is necessary.
Saudis are tough negotiators and business is hierarchical and decisions are made by the highest-ranking person and do not use high-pressure tactics.
When discussing price, Saudis will often make an initial offer that is extremely low when they are buying. Conversely, when they are selling, their initial offer will be extremely high and you may need to compromise on a point if someone’s dignity is at stake. Business travelers involved in commercial disputes with a Saudi company or individual may be prevented from leaving the country until the dispute is resolved

Dress Etiquette

Most Saudis wear long white thobes and you would be expected to wear a suit as dressing well makes a good impression. Business women should make certain that their collarbones and knees are covered and that their clothes are not form-fitting.

Gift Giving Etiquette

Gifts are not the norm as in many other countries so if you are invited to a Saudi’s house bring something small as a thank you. Flowers do not make good gifts from a man, although a woman could give them to her hostess.
Never give alcohol unless you are positive they partake and gifts are not opened when received.

Dining Etiquette

  • Saudis socialize primarily in restaurants and international hotels when entertaining expatriates whom they do not know well and after some time you will be invited to the home.
  • Entertainment will generally be same-sex only but if both sexes are included, they will be in separate rooms.
  • If you are invited to a Saudi’s house:
  • You would usually remove your shoes.
  • Dress conservatively.
  • Try to arrive at the invited time. Punctuality is appreciated but not crucial.
  • Show respect for the elders by greeting them first.
  • Accept the offer of Arabian coffee and dates even if you do not normally drink coffee.
  • If you are invited for a meal, understand that there will be a great deal of socializing and small talk before the meal is served.

Table manners

  • If the meal is on the floor, sit cross-legged or kneel on one knee.
  • Eat only with the right hand as the left is considered unclean.
  • Try a bit of everything that is served.
  • Meals are generally served family-style.
  • Honored guests are often offered the most prized pieces such as a sheep’s head so be prepared
  • There is often more food than you can eat. Part of Saudi hospitality and generosity is to shower guests with abundance.
  • There is little conversation during meals so that diners may relish the food.

Consumption of Alcohol, illegal drugs and other

The importation and use of alcohol is forbidden. Possession of alcohol may result in imprisonment and corporal punishment. There are strong penalties for possession of or dealing in illegal drugs, including in some cases the death penalty. Preaching religions other than Islam may result in imprisonment and/or deportation.

The import and use of pork products and pornographic material is forbidden and can lead to imprisonment.

Marriage

It should be noted, on marriage to a Saudi national that under the country’s customs the family has strong power over the individual, therefore if a woman wants her right of movement guaranteed, she must insist on a premarital settlement, stipulating this right. Such an agreement is binding, and can be used in court to settle a possible dispute. Men and women must not hold hands and/or kiss in public.

Dress Code


In public, ladies should wear an Abaya, a full-length black over-garment. It is also advisable to have a head scarf although it is not, strictly speaking, required.  Men are also expected to dress modestly in full length trousers and shirts with sleeves, even if short.

Road Safety

Driving standards in Saudi Arabia are very poor and the annual death toll on Saudi roads is extremely high. Care should be taken when traveling by vehicle and seat belts should be worn at all times.

Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. For male drivers, driving can be difficult, particularly since road signs may not be in roman letters.

Given the relatively low cost, most visitors will use taxis or chauffeur-driven cars. Female travelers should only travel in pre-booked taxis known to be safe and should normally avoid hailing a taxi in the street.

Iran


Iran is an Islamic Republic. Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in the country’s customs, laws, and regulations and common sense and discretion should be exercised in dress and behavior. Visitors should dress conservatively (men should not wear shorts or sleeveless shirts; women must cover their head with a scarf and conceal the body’s contours by wearing a loose fitting knee length outer garment and trousers). Respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.

Strict rules

It is prohibited to import alcohol or pork products.

Photography near military, government installations and many other areas are also strictly prohibited and there may be warnings signs displayed to this effect. Any transgression may result in detention and serious criminal charges.

During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), visitors should refrain from drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset.

Crime

Travelers have occasionally been victims of petty theft. Avoid displays of affluence and ensure personal belongings, passports, and other travel documents are secured at all times.

Road safety

The standard of driving in Iran, particularly in urban centers, is poor and can be challenging to newcomers. Iran has one of the highest rates of road accidents in the world and travelers should drive with great care. If you are involved in an accident, no matter how minor, do not leave the scene. You should wait until the police arrive to make their report.

Cash Banking

Visitors should bring sufficient hard currency (Euros or US dollars) with them to fund their stay.

UAE

The UAE is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is enforced. Women should dress in a modest way, particularly in Sharjah and Ajman emirates where Islamic law is rigorously enforced.  Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible.  Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public. Sex outside of marriage is illegal, as is cohabitation, adultery and homosexual behavior. Swearing or making rude gestures is considered an obscene act and offenders can be prosecuted.

Strict rules

The importation of narcotics, pork products and pornographic books and material is totally forbidden. Fraud, including bouncing cheques and the non-payment of bills (including hotel bills), is regarded seriously in the UAE and can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine. Bail is generally not available to non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for crimes involving fraud. Convicted debtors will not generally be released from jail until the debt is paid or waived.

Consumption of alcohol

Liquor licenses can be obtained by residents to consume alcohol in private homes, and alcoholic drinks are served in licensed hotels and clubs. But it is a punishable offense to drink or to be drunk in public.

Illegal drugs

The penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling and possession are severe. Drug trafficking penalties can include the death sentence or life imprisonment. The presence of drugs in the body constitutes possession and carries a minimum sentence of four years.

Any such medication is not allowed into the UAE without prior permission from the UAE Ministry of Health. Medication on the website is listed by its generic name, so travelers should check the generic name of their medication with a doctor or pharmacist. Further queries should be directed to the local Embassy or Consulate of the UAE.

Road Safety

Excursions to the desert can be dangerous unless undertaken in adequately equipped 4 x 4 vehicles. You should always travel in convoy with other cars, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone if you have one and leave travel plans with friends or relatives. It is an offense in the UAE to drink and drive. There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving, and the penalties can be severe. Insurance is likely to be invalidated, leaving the driver to pay claims by other parties involved.

Egypt

Egypt is a conservative society, and modest dress should be observed.  Women’s clothes should cover their legs and upper arms. Public displays of affection are frowned upon. During Ramadan, eating, drinking or smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims, who make up the majority of Egypt’s population. To avoid offense you may wish to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public during this time.

Possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offense and can, even for possession of small amounts, lead to long prison sentences (25 years) or the death penalty.

Road Safety

Driving conditions in Egypt can be hazardous and travelers are advised to avoid driving at night outside major cities. There have been a series of bus crashes in Egypt in recent years, which have resulted in the death of a considerable number of Egyptians and foreign tourists.

India


You should not become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for possession of narcotic substances can be severe. There is a minimum sentence of six months for possession of small amounts for personal consumption only. However, a 10 year sentence for possession of other amounts applies. The slow judicial process means that lengthy pre-trial detention, usually of several years, is the norm.

Table manners

Table manners are formal but the formality is tempered by the religious beliefs of the various groups and most of the places, food is eaten with fingers.

  • Wait to be told where to sit.
  • If utensils are used, they are generally a tablespoon and a fork.
  • Guests are often served in a particular order: the guest of honour is served first, followed by the men, and the children are served last. Women typically serve the men and eat later.
  • You may be asked to wash your hands before and after sitting down to a meal.
  • Always use your right hand to eat, whether you are using utensils or your fingers.
    In some situations food may be put on your plate for you, while in other situations you may be allowed to serve yourself from a communal bowl.
  • Leaving a small amount of food on your plate indicates that you are satisfied. Finishing all your food means that you are still hungry.

Dress Etiquette

Business attire is conservative and men should wear dark colored conservative business suits. The weather often determines clothing. In the hotter parts of the country, dress is less formal, although dressing as suggested above for the first meeting will indicate respect.

Titles

  • Indians revere titles such as Professor, Doctor and Engineer.
  • Status is determined by age, university degree, caste and profession.
  • If someone does not have a professional title, use the honorific title “Sir” or “Madam”.
  • Titles are used with the person’s name or the surname, depending upon the person’s name.
  • Wait to be invited before using someone’s first name without the title.

Pakistan

Pakistan is a Muslim state and local customs, such as dress and behavior, should be respected. Always dress modestly as men and women should cover their shoulders and legs when in public. Women should cover their heads when entering mosques or other holy places, and when traveling in more rural areas.

Importing alcohol and pork products is illegal. Possession of even small quantities of illegal drugs can lead to imprisonment and drug smuggling can attract the death penalty.

You are advised not to take photographs at military establishments, airports or any infrastructure, including bridges and dams or from aircraft.

Crime

Criminal violence, including armed car-jacking, robbery, kidnap and murder, is common, especially in Karachi and therefore travelers have been offered drugged food and then robbed.  You should be very careful and confident of your personal security arrangements throughout your visit. Much of Baluchistan, rural Sindh and the North West Frontier Province, including the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and Agencies, have a high incidence of lawlessness. Beware of the risk of street crime and take personal security measures.  Take particular care to safeguard your passport and bank cards, particularly when traveling by public transport and when walking in crowded areas.

Turkey

Turkey has strict laws against the use, possession or trafficking of illegal drugs.  If you are convicted of any of these offences, you can expect to receive a heavy fine and a prison sentence of up to 15 years. Normally, the dress code in Turkey is the same as in Europe, however, you should dress modestly if visiting a mosque or a religious shrine (long trousers or dress and women should wear a headscarf). Do not take photographs near military or official installations and seek permission before photographing individuals.

Crime

Incidents of violent crime against tourists in Turkey are rare. Street robbery and pick pocketing are common in the major tourist areas of Istanbul. There have been a number of cases of theft from apartments in some of the coastal resorts. Visitors should heed the advice of their local tour operator representative.

Road safety

You should take particular care when traveling by road throughout Turkey, as road conditions and driving standards can be poor. Serious traffic accidents are common particularly at night.

Some other countries;

Clothing: Wearing shorts in public is generally not acceptable in most parts of the world, including some European countries. In Arab countries, low necklines, sleeveless shirts, and short skirts are definitely a bad idea. When in doubt, dress conservatively. Also, while it is tempting to dress in the local style, like wearing a sari in India, be sensitive to the culture – sometimes the local citizenry will appreciate your attempt to fit in; sometimes it will be considered an insult.

Greetings/touching: Handshakes are an almost universally accepted form of greeting, although in some countries, like Japan, a traditional bow from the waist down is preferred. Be careful how you address someone; don’t use first names unless you are invited to do so. In some countries, you’ll see a lot of hugging and kissing going on among the locals (Greece, Italy, Latin countries, Slavic countries); an affectionate hug or peck on the cheek that you share with a new acquaintance is fine, but usually if you are responding to, not initiating it.

Language/Gestures: Taking a crash course in the language of the country you will be visiting rarely results in the mastery of the language. Instead, learn some polite expressions (hello-goodbye-thank you) and relax. English is pretty common worldwide, especially in tourist areas, and you can always include body language to get your message across. However, some American gestures have totally different meanings in other countries. For example, in Bulgaria, shaking your head horizontally means “yes”; shaking it vertically means “no”. Also using the American gesture for “OK” (the thumb and forefinger making a circle with the other fingers pointing up) can be embarrassing. In Brazil that gesture means “screw you”: in Japan it means “money”: in Southern France it means “zero” or “worthless”.

Food/Drink: You may find yourself staring down at a local delicacy – snake soup in China, a yak burger in Tibet, sheep’s eyes in Saudi Arabia, calves’ brains in France – and wonder what to do, particularly if you are a guest in someone’s home. Be brave, take small bites, and pretend it tastes like something you like. When presented with a strong alcoholic drink, like ouzo in Greece, take small sips and stop when you must (you can refuse, citing medical reasons as your excuse). Remember that Hindus and some Buddhists don’t eat beef (the cow is sacred); Muslims don’t eat pork, and strict Muslims abstain from alcohol. If you are eating with Muslims, never touch food with your left hand (the left hand is for bathroom use and is considered unsanitary; using it would be very offensive).

Socializing/conversations: If you are acquainted with the history and culture of the country, you shouldn’t get unnerved. In general, some topics can be touchy or controversial, like money, religion, politics, and sex. But the particular nature of the people is critical. The Japanese do not want to talk about World War II; the French scowl at the classic American question: “What do you do for a living?”; the Chinese call their country “China” or the “People’s Republic of China” – not “the Mainland”; people in Scotland are “Scots” or “Scotsmen,” not “Scotch” (the drink) or “Scottish” (the language or the terrier).

Something to remember

Do not blow your nose in public as it is a sign of bad manner in Japan. The best would be to sniffle until you are alone. It is also seen as bad manners to open a gift you receive in front of the gift giver. The best would be to thank and wait until opening it when you are alone. When it comes to business cards, you should read it before you put it in your pocket or wallet.

Dinner in the evening? Then take a long shower or relax at home before you arrive. People do not arrive right on time in France or Latin America as people tend not to be on time because arriving right on time seems like you are greedy rather than being polite. Last, know your time as when the first people leave the table, the others follow after. Staying late will make you look like you are misusing the hosts hospitality.

In China, the food is eaten with chopsticks, therefore never leave the chopsticks vertical on the rice bowl but  horizontal because it will remind of incense the Chinese use under funerals and seem rather offensive. And if you are served fish, do not turn the fish around cause according to superstition belief, if you turn the fish, the fishing boat will turn over in the sea as a result of an accident. But it is good to drink as Chinese people enjoy the company where alcohol is floating since peoples true colors come forward when they are drunk.

It is important to be careful in when traveling in Russia. Try to avoid these;

Do not shake hands in the doorway, light a cigarette from a candle or whistle inside. It is also important to not kiss someone on the forehead and give flowers containing of a even number as this is done for the deceased.

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