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Justice Watch – Access to Justice

Category Page: Justice Watch

Honour killing: After 12 years in prison, three convicts walk free

The three convicts Ijaz Ahmad, Shahid Iqbal and Muhammad Iqbal were involved in the killing of a couple in Hafaz Abad on May 10, 2005. A trial court had awarded the death sentence to Ijaz Ahmad and life imprisonment to the other two. However, LHC later overturned Ijaz’s death sentence to life imprisonment.

The bench, while hearing the case, wondered how was it possible that two different cases were registered of the same incident. They passed the remarks after the police submitted two different challans. They also observed that this showed that the police itself was not interested in improving the criminal justice system.

Deputy Prosecutor General Punjab Muhammad Jaffir, during the hearing, told the court that Mohsin and Fozia were murdered at different places therefore, the two cases were registered.

However, Justice Khosa observed that it is the job of the police to not only focus on the complainant’s stance but also to dig out the truth. He lamented that, unfortunately, the police takes side with the complainant and uses false witnesses to prove their stance. He also remarked that so many lives are wasted due to the production of false witnesses and added that no one is ready to tell the truth.

The judge asked the prosecution department to train police officers and highlight the shortcomings on the basis of which accused persons are being acquitted. He also said that even though district committees are formed to improve the justice system, their outcome is nothing.

Meanwhile, Justice Qazi Faez Isa remarked that the conduct of prosecution was not up to the mark as the police was hushing up cases by taking bribes. He also lamented that police itself is not ready to improve the investigation system.

Punjab’s deputy prosecutor general opposed the acquittal and said that at least 25 years of imprisonment should be awarded to them in the case. However, the bench disagreed with him and observed that the prosecution had failed to prove its case.

Later, a senior law officer of the prosecution department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, admitted that there was total negligence on the part of the police in the investigation. He added that police officers are not ready to get guidance from the prosecution department.

This verdict also sparked a debate in legal circles and others linked with the profession who wondered over the reasons regarding the acquittal of death-row prisoners by the Supreme Court’s three-judge special bench over the past couple of months.

Many members of the legal fraternity ascribed the high acquittal rate to the application of the principle of ‘Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus’ (False in one thing, false in everything). They added that there were profound repercussions on criminal justice system because of the application of the principle.

Experts say it will discourage complainants to nominate innocent people in murder cases. They also said the number of prisoners in jails would also decrease. – Tribune

Malala, Edhi and Bacha Khan featured as ‘Peace Heroes’ at Vienna Museum

The Vienna Peace Museum in 2014 launched “Peace Heroes” in which they feature personalities that are both historic and contemporary.

For their 2017 edition, the museum introduced Malala Yousufzai and Abdul Sattar Edhi as one of their prominent peace heroes.

“Peace Museum Vienna attempts to conduct peace education through the lives of its Peace Heroes. These heroes include historic as well as contemporary figures, who spent their lives either promoting peace through their profession, such as the sociologist Johan Galtung, or practiced nonviolence as their main strategy for a peaceful life, such as Mahatma Gandhi,” the website of the museum reads.

They have an established list of 150 Peace Heroes who are first sent to the PMV board for approval, and they aim to raise the number to 5000 in the next three years. The website includes a popular photo of Malala, clad in a red dupatta, with the description, “Pakistani teenage activist for education for females, survived after being shot in the head by the Taliban for wanting to go to school.”

On it’s official Twitter and Facebook account, the museum in April announced that their latest addition to the Peace Heroes is Abdul Sattar Edhi, but have yet to include him on their website.

The list also includes many men and women from Asia and the Middle East for their outstanding contribution to the society. The museum also includes Bacha Khan, a Pashtun independence activist, with the description, “Pakistani nonviolent activist, founder of  ‘Servants of God’  movement, advocated non-violence against British oppression.”

Malala’s name is included in the same list that features Jesus, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Kofi Anan among many other historically significant personalities. -Tribune

Women as ‘collateral’ in jirga justice

MULTAN: The rape of a teenage girl in revenge for a crime committed by her brother has left residents of Muzaffarabad district in Multan shaken and questioning a deeply entrenched system of village justice.

Last month, a council of village elders ordered the rape of the 16-year-old victim after her brother was accused of raping a 12-year-old girl.

The ruling highlighted the role such councils – known as panchayats, or jirgas – play in the lives of many rural people, who see the country’s courtrooms as a distant presence.

The councils have traditionally enjoyed broad support, thanks to their ability to offer immediate justice, compared to courts that can take years to settle a criminal case, and as much as a decade to resolve a civil dispute

Panchayat orders ‘revenge rape’ of teen girl

But the recent ruling, which allowed a rape victim’s brother to sexually assault another innocent girl, has unsettled Rajpur area, home to some 3,000 people.

“May God have mercy, it was such a strange day and it was such a big injustice,” said villager Amina Bibi.

“In our area there is neither a school nor a hospital, and poverty and ignorance rules here… This incident is a mark of this ignorance,” said 46-year-old Imtiaz Matila.

“It’s a stain on the name of the panchayat,” agreed another villager, 65-year-old Manzoor Hussain.

Police arrest main accused, three others in Multan ‘revenge rape’ case

The girls have since been taken to a women’s shelter in Multan, country’s fifth-largest city. Rajpur area is just a few kilometres down the road, but feels a world away away from urban life.

Men sit around on charpoys, sheltering from the blistering heat, while women are conspicuous only by their absence, shielded from view behind the rough stone walls that surround each of the crudely built, single-storey houses.

Central Punjab is also home to one of Pakistan’s most prominent advocates for women’s rights – Mukhtar Mai, whose own story offers a window into jirga justice and its brutal mistreatment of women.

In 2002, a jirga ordered Mai to be gang-raped after her brother was falsely accused of rape.

Mai, who lives a few hours north of Multan, made the unusual decision to defy her rapists and take them to court. But in one of South Asia’s most infamous miscarriages of justice, her attackers walked free, and people continued to rely on panchayats, even as she went on to become a high-profile activist.

“It’s an honour-based system and there’s nothing more dishonourable than the rape of a woman within your family,” explained women’s rights activist Aisha Sarwari.

The men of the aggressor’s family must be shamed through the loss of their women’s dignity, Sarwari explained.

“That’s the balance of power in these communities, which makes sure that women are some kind of collateral,” she added.

Effectiveness of jirgas?

The Supreme Court, trying to bring jirgas to heel, declared them illegal in 2006. But in an apparent backtrack this year aimed at unclogging the slow-moving court system, the government passed a new law that promotes village councils as an alternative solution to small civil disputes.

The decision, dubbed the ‘Jirga Law’ by activists, has raised concerns about women’s rights, given the precedents set by the panchayats.

“The decisions of the jirgas have always had a negative impact on the lives of women,” said women’s rights activist Samar Minallah.

The new law does not suggest penalties for decisions like the one made by the council in Raja Ram, added Minallah, who brought the original 2006 anti-jirga petition to the Supreme Court.

But the uproar surrounding the rapes at Raja Ram has spurred the court to demand a full investigation.

Despite her concerns, Minallah is confident that the court will “step in at one stage or another to remind the state that these jirgas are against the constitution and humanity”.

Whatever the court decides, for some in Raja Ram at least, faith in the traditional system has been shaken.

“There used to be wise people in the old days who were making good panchayat decisions,” recalled resident Matila.

“They used to know the realities of the village… but now, these are the panchayat,” he said, dismissively. -Tribune

All 29 suspects in panchayat-ordered rape case arrested: police inform SC

All 29 suspects nominated for their involvement in the panchayat-ordered ‘revenge rape’ of a teenage girl in Muzaffarabad area of Multan district last month have been arrested, read the police report submitted before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

According to the progress report submitted by Multan city police officer (CPO), the main accused in the case — who raped 16-year-old N* as “punishment” for a rape her brother had committed days earlier — has also been arrested.

The man who is accused of raping the 12-year-old F*, sister of the main suspect, was arrested last month.

Three first information reports (FIRs) of the incidents were registered: two on the complaints of the two victims’ families against each other, and the third against the illegal panchayat members in which the police/state were the complainant.

Police has taken swabs of both victims and both alleged rapists, and will submit challans in a court of law within seven days after completion of the investigation, the CPO said.

According to the police report, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the ‘revenge’ rape had taken place due to a compromise between the families of the two rapists — both belong to the Bhullar community.

Stating the facts of the case, it said that on July 16, a man raped F, the daughter of Haq Nawaz. When a furious Haq Nawaz and his relatives went to the alleged rapist’s house to demand revenge, it was decided that the suspect’s sister, N, would be handed over to F’s brother to be raped as a punishment.

Subsequently, a meeting of the Bhullar bradari was held at Haq Nawaz’s house which was attended by a number of people. In the meantime, the mother of N arrived at the meeting and offered her daughter in marriage but Haq Nawaz refused and asked his son to take N in a room and rape her.

Haq Nawaz’s wife then “forcibly dragged” N into a room and locked the door, after which her son raped the teenage girl.

Last week, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had taken suo motu notice of the case, while Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took punitive action against the police over a “criminal delay” on their part in proceeding with the case.

The Multan city police officer was made an OSD (officer on special duty) and the entire staff of the Muzaffarabad police station was suspended.

-Dawn

Rapist jailed for 10 years

KARACHI: A sessions court sentenced on Saturday a shopkeeper to 10 years in prison in a case pertaining to the abduction and rape of a minor girl.

Hamza Khan was found guilty of subjecting a six-year-old girl to a sexual assault in a Korangi locality in November 2015.

Additional district and sessions judge (East) Zahiba Khattak, who read out the conviction order after recording evidence of witnesses and arguments from both sides, also imposed a fine of Rs50,000. In case of default the convict would undergo an additional six-month imprisonment.

The court ruled that the victim had given an explicit testimony about the incident and categorically deposed against the accused, adding that other witnesses and documentary evidence also corroborated her statement.

The prosecution said that the victim had gone to the shop of the accused to purchase something, but he subjected her to rape.

A case was registered under Section 376 (punishment for rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of the victim’s father.

Another girl subjected to vani to ‘settle rape’

SAHIWAL: Police have registered two cases against 10 people for their involvement in a vani “marriage” of an underage girl allegedly held at 114/7-R village, Chichwatini, on the orders of a panchayat to settle rape of a woman.

According to Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Amjad Javed kambho, four of the suspects, including the groom and nikah khwan, have been arrested by Chichawatni Saddar police.

It is third such incident in a span of a week in Punjab where a female has been used as a bargain chip to settle a dispute arising out of male mischief.

Earlier, on July 26 a 10-year-old girl was married off to a 17-year-old boy to avenge the court marriage of a couple in Darkhan locality of Karor tehsil, Layyah district.

Karor police had registered a case and arrested nikah khwan Hafiz Atique Usmani, witness Bilal Ahmed and a punchayat member Jehangir.

Similarly, on the same day, Multan police had claimed to have arrested 20 people after a 16-year-old girl was allegedly raped on the orders of a panchayat (village council) as punishment for an alleged rape committed by her brother. In the latest incident, police said that two weeks back Munir (37), a resident of the village appeared in a panchayat where he accused Rafique of raping his wife.

The accuser demanded that he should be allowed to marry Rafique’s 14-year-old daughter ‘K’ as “compensation” for his wife’s rape.

The panchayat gave the verdict in Munir’s favour and the minor girl was married to him.

However, this annoyed the girl’s brother Khizer Abbas who informed Chichwatni Sadar police about the panchayat’s decision and its outcome through an application.

The police raided the village and arrested four people — Munir, his sister, nikah khwan and one of the panchayat elder who was also a witness to the nikah.

Police filed two FIRs (320/17 and 321/17) against 10 people under sections 376, 310A, 365B and 366A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on the complaint of Munir’s mother-in-law Pathani Bibi and the victim’s brother Khizer Abbas, respectively.

Police said it was the suspect’s third marriage as he had earlier divorced one of his wives, while the other was living with him.

-Dawn.com

CJP takes notice of teenage girl’s ‘revenge rape’ on panchayat orders

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday took notice of the rape of a teenage girl in an impoverished southern district of Punjab which reportedly took place on the orders of a panchayat or village council.

The panchayat comprising 20 members, including four women, in Muzaffarabad district of Multan had ordered a man earlier this month to rape a 16-year-old girl in revenge for the earlier rape of his sister. Taking notice of the matter, the CJP issued directives for Punjab Police Inspector General Capt (retd) Arif Nawaz Khan to submit a report into the incident.

According to police sources, 12 members of the panchayat – including the man who presided over the meeting, or Sarpanch – have been arrested so far while a manhunt is underway to arrest the remaining members who fled after the incident.

This is not the first incident of its kind in Punjab. Several similar incidents cases have been reported in the media while most remain unreported due to social stigma associated with such cases.

Panchayats or jirgas are a traditional means of settling disputes in the country’s rural areas, where courts and lawyers are not always accessible or trusted. Such councils do not, however, hold any legal standing.

-Tribune

Saudi woman walks around in miniskirt and crop top in public

DUBAI: A young Saudi woman sparked a sensation online over the weekend by posting a video of herself in a miniskirt and crop top walking around in public, with some Saudis calling for her arrest and others rushing to her defense, reported Daily Mail.

State-linked news websites reported on Monday that officials in the deeply conservative Muslim country are looking into taking possible action against the woman, who violated the kingdom’s rules of dress. Women in Saudi Arabia must wear long, loose robes known as abayas in public. Most also cover their hair and face with a black veil, though exceptions are made for visiting dignitaries.

The video, first shared on Snapchat, shows her walking around an empty historic fort in Ushaiager, a village north of the capital, Riyadh, in the desert region of Najd, where many of Saudi Arabia’s most conservative tribes and families are from.

Competing Twitter hashtags emerged, with one demanding the woman’s arrest and another asserting that freedom of dress should not be a crime.

Ibrahim al-Munayif, a Saudi writer with more than 41,000 followers on Twitter, wrote on his official account that allowing people to disobey the law leads to chaos.

“Just like we call on people to respect the laws of countries they travel to, people must also respect the laws of this country,” he wrote.

Others defended her by posting images from President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May, in which First Lady Melania Trump and his daughter Ivanka, though modestly dressed in higher necklines and longer sleeves, shunned wearing a head cover or the abaya.

Ivanka Trump’s blonde tresses and attire sparked a Twitter hashtag during the president’s visit, with Saudi males commenting on her looks and referring to the president as Abu Ivanka, meaning Ivanka’s father.

One Twitter user, whose post was shared more than 1,700 times, superimposed an image of Ivanka’s face on the young Saudi woman’s body, writing: “Enough already, the situation has been solved.” Others wrote that had the woman been a foreigner, people would be talking about her beauty, but because she is Saudi, they are calling for arrest.

The Saudi Okaz news website reported that officials in Ushaiager called on the region’s governor and police to take actions against the woman in response to the video, without elaborating further. Saudi news website Sabq reported that the kingdom’s morality police had corresponded with other agencies to investigate further after the video was brought to their attention.

Social media is wildly popular in Saudi Arabia as a space to vent frustrations and gauge public opinion.

With more than half of the population of Saudi Arabia under 25 years old, the country’s 30-year-old heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has pushed for greater openings for entertainment in part to appease the country’s youth, but strict gender segregation rules and other restrictions on women’s movement still remain in place.

-Samaa Tv

World’s first child hand transplant a ‘success’

WASHINGTON: The first child in the world to undergo a double hand transplant is now able to write, feed and dress himself, doctors said Tuesday, declaring the ground-breaking operation a success after 18 months.

The report in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health provides the first official medical update on 10-year old Zion Harvey, who underwent surgery to replace both hands in July 2015.

“Eighteen months after the surgery, the child is more independent and able to complete day-to-day activities,” said Sandra Amaral, a doctor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where the operation took place.

“He continues to improve as he undergoes daily therapy to increase his hand function, and psychosocial support to help deal with the ongoing demands of his surgery.”

Harvey had his hands and feet amputated at the age of two, following a sepsis infection. He also had a kidney transplant.

Harvey was already receiving drugs to suppress any immune reaction to his kidney, which was a key factor in his selection for the 10-plus hour hand transplant surgery.

Immunosuppressive drugs must be taken continuously to prevent a patient’s body from rejecting the transplant. These drugs carry risks, including diabetes, cancer and infections.

Doctors reviewed both the successes and challenges Harvey and his family have faced, noting that a large team of specialists was hard at work supporting them through all the ups and downs.

The child has “undergone eight rejections of the hands, including serious episodes during the fourth and seventh months of his transplant,” said the report.

“All of these were reversed with immunosuppression drugs without impacting the function of the child’s hands.”

Harvey continues to take four immunosuppression drugs and a steroid.

“While functional outcomes are positive and the boy is benefitting from his transplant, this surgery has been very demanding for this child and his family,” said Amaral.

– Post-surgery progress –

Before the double hand transplant, Harvey had “limited ability to dress, feed and wash himself through adapted processes, using his residual limbs or specialist equipment,” said the report.

His mother hoped he would one day be able to dress himself, brush his teeth, and cut up his own food.

Harvey, for his part, wanted to climb monkey bars and grip a baseball bat.

The donor hands became available in July 2015 from a deceased child.

Within days of the surgery, Harvey discovered he could move his fingers, using the ligaments from his residual limbs.

“Regrowth of the nerves meant that he could move the transplanted hand muscles and feel touch within around six months, when he also became able to feed himself and grasp a pen to write,” said the report.

Eight months after the operation, Harvey was using scissors and drawing with crayons.

Within a year, he could swing a baseball bat using both hands.

He also threw out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game last August.

Regular meetings with a psychologist and a social worker were part of the recovery process, aimed at helping him cope with his new hands.

Scans have shown his brain is adapting to the new hands, developing new pathways to control movement and feel sensations.

Researchers cautioned that more study is needed before hand transplants in children become widespread.

“The world’s first double hand transplant in a child has been successful under carefully considered circumstances,” said the report.

The first successful hand transplant in an adult was completed in 1998.

 -Samaa Tv

Indian woman beaten up by in-laws for giving birth to female child

NEWS DESK: A woman has been filmed apparently being beaten by her in-laws for giving birth to a girl, reported Hindustan Times.

Local reports in Katalwi, Punjab, suggest that Meena Kashyap, 35, was also attacked as part of a dowry dispute.

Footage shows her cowering and screaming in pain as she is hit with hockey sticks by two men believed to be her brother-in-law and a friend of his.

Her husband’s family had recently found out that she had previously made complaints about them in April saying they had treated her with violence.

Ms Kashyap is said to be in dispute over a dowry of £8,300 given to her by her in-laws but then when she gave birth to a girl her husband’s family were angered.

She has been beaten a number of times, according to Hindustan Times.

Police are bringing charges against her husband Daljit Singh, his brother Kamaljeet, and a friend identified only as Gaurav.

The charges include trespass and ‘voluntarily causing hurt’.

Her father said: “We had complained about the issue last year itself but nothing was being done regarding that. They have been married for the past two years now and have a girl child. Their family asked for 700,000 rupees for dowry.” -Samaa

May no daughter be born to a poor family, prays Qandeel’s grieving father

MULTAN: On the eve of the first death anniversary of Qandeel Baloch, her father Azeem fondly remembers the social media celebrity.

Sitting beneath a tree outside his house in Shah Sadruddin few kilometres away from the main city of Dera Ghazi Khan district, the 82-year-old was waiting for his wife to return from relatives house with money to buy food.

“I want to observe her death anniversary,” he told The Express Tribune. “I have no shame in remembering her, she supported me financially and emotionally.”

“I want to tell all those who are still mudslinging Qandeel that I will observe her death anniversary every year till my last breath.”

Recalling his Qandeel’s life, Azeem said he was fortunate to have her as his daughter, adding that she helped the family through tough times. “May no daughter be born to a poor family,” he wept.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Azeem said he would not forgive his son for Qandeel’s murder. He called for strict punishment to set a precedent to stop honour killings in the future.

Expressing disappointment with police and the law and the system, Azeem blamed Mufti Abdul Qawwi for becoming the reason behind Qandeel’s death. He said it was only after their pictures went viral that her life was in danger.

Accusing police of “not taking the matter seriously”, he alleged they had looted the family following the murder by taking away cash and other belongings. -Tribune

Muslim model who survived acid attack launches petition as she recovers

NEWS DESK: Survivors of acid attacks in the UK have raised a call for tougher laws against perpetrators and demanded stricter measures for the purchasing of corrosive substances after a spate of assaults in recent weeks, reported Al Jazeera.

Sulphuric acid in drain cleaners, bleaches and corrosive alkalis in battery fluid can be easily bought in shops across the UK at a low price.

Resham Khan, who was recently attacked in east London, launched a petition as she recovers from serious burns from her hospital bed.

Hundreds of thousands of Britons supported the campaign on Friday, the same day two teenage boys earlier threw acid at five people in east London – leaving one victim with life-changing injuries.

“An attack like this could happen to anyone,” said Khan’s Change.org petition, which is titled to ‘prohibit the purchase of acid to those without a licence’. “It is about time that the law changes for the purchase of corrosive substances – right now you can buy it easily from any hardware store if you are 18 and above.

“Corrosive acids like sulphuric acid are very lethal and life damaging substances. You should only be allowed to purchase corrosive substances with a licence to buy. The person purchasing should go through checks so their details are held on a database or hold a licence.”

By early Saturday, almost 400,000 people had signed the 21-year-old’s bid.

As Khan celebrated her birthday on June 21 with her cousin Jameel Mukhtar, chief suspect John Tomlin threw a substance through their car window.

Tomlin, who is white, then fled the scene after attacking the pair, who are of South Asian descent, but eventually turned himself in. Police described the attack as a hate crime.

Mukhtar has said he believes they were targeted because of their Islamic faith.

“Although I will send this letter directly to numerous members of parliament and retailers of corrosive substances, I also extend this letter to the public,” said Khan.

“My plans are in pieces; my pain is unbearable, and I write this letter in hospital whilst I patiently wait for the return of my face … Why did this attack happen? What led to the event? But more importantly: Why is acid, or corrosive substances, so easy to obtain and be used as a weapon?”

Calls to restrict sales

Following Friday’s attack in east London, which saw the two teenage attackers spraying acid on victims from their mopeds, chief inspector Ben Clark from Hackney Borough, said: “Of late, we have seen more attacks using corrosive substances in London.

“I would urge businesses and parents to challenge those who they think may be trying to obtain or carry these substances as this could help prevent serious offences and life changing injuries being caused.”

London’s Metropolitan Police say the number of reported attacks in the capital rose from 261 in 2015 to 454 in 2016, a rise of 74 percent, according to British media.

In the first four months of 2017, there were more than 100 attacks, police said, London’s Metro newspaper said.

Katie Piper, another British survivor, also launched a campaign on Friday.

In 2008, when she was 24 years old, she was raped by her partner who later arranged for someone to throw sulphuric acid at her face.

That attack left Piper severely burned and blind in one eye.

In an open letter demanding government action, she wrote: “At present, it is all too easy for someone to buy a corrosive substance and throw it, sometimes from a distance, at another person. It is vital that we do everything we can to halt these types of attack.”

She also raised concerns regarding sentencing.

“The current legislation does not always recognise the severity of the offence and, therefore, the sentencing does not reflect the severity of the crime in some cases,” Piper said.

“Tougher sentencing would surely act as a deterrent to further attacks. The issue of penalties for carrying corrosive substances needs to be addressed and restrictions on the sale of corrosive substances need to be looked at seriously and methodically through a scientific and well-resourced approach that leads to swift action.”

Following Friday’s attack, Prime Minister Theresa May said the government was working with the police to see what more could be done to prevent attacks.

“It is already an offence to carry acid or a corrosive substance with intent to cause harm. And anyone using it can be prosecuted for pretty serious offences including ABH (Assault occasioning actual bodily harm) and GBH (Grievous bodily harm). We are working with the police to see what more we could do,” May told a Westminster briefing.

-Samaa

BISP Launches Nutrition drive for 1.5 Million Women

Islamabad:  BISP in collaboration with World Food Programme (WFP) conducted a training workshop on nutrition at BISP headquarters today to train its social mobilizers on nutrition. These master trainers will create awareness among 1.5 million beneficiary mothers through 50,000 BISP Beneficiary Committees (BBCs) in 32 districts across Pakistan on nutrition.

The training was attended by Minister of State and Chairperson BISP MNA Marvi Memon, Country Director WFP Mr Finbarr Curran, Deputy Country Director WFP Mr Stephen Gluning, Ms Cecilia Garzon WFP Head of Nutrition, Secretary BISP Ms Yasmeen Masood, Dr Ali Ahmad Khan WFP Policy Officer Nutrition, team leaders, cluster incharges and social mobilizers of BISP partner firms Aurat Foundation and Mott MacDonald Pakistan.

In her inaugural address, Chairperson BISP Marvi Memon said that it is beginning of a revolution as the behavioral change brought through these trainings would help in improving IQ levels, thus enhancing productivity of future generations. She added that this partnership between BISP and WFP would create a significant impact on gross root level by reducing malnourishment and stunting, as it would benefit the poorest of the country.

Country Director WFP Mr Finbarr Curran stated that this initiative would help in reaching out to the most vulnerable segment of society where malnutrition and stunting rates are alarmingly high. WFP attaches great importance to partnership with BISP- the premier social safety net and is passionate in carrying this partnership forward to improve food and nutrition security in the country.

The training comprised of three sessions. In first session Dr Ali highlighted the importance of intelligent spending on nutritional food within available budget. He emphasized that malnutrition can be curbed if mothers give their  children fresh fruit, vegetables, pulses, eggs,  meat, milk, boiled  water and mould their way of cooking as to preserve the nutrients present in food. The second session took into account mother child health and third session focused exclusively on mother health as healthy mothers are able to raise healthy children.

While explaining the role of nutrition in development, Dr Ali said that the nutritive food enhances the immunity of children that results in their better physical and mental growth. Healthy children perform better in education, are more productive and contribute to the development of society and country in a better fashion.

Chairperson BISP wished the mobilizers good luck and said that this is a great responsibility on their shoulders ,as 1.5 million women is a huge number that can register a considerable impact on the stats sheet of the country.

This training was first in the series of workshops that will be conducted in Bahawalpur, Sukkur, Sialkot, Abbotabad, Peshawar, Quetta and Gilgit within one month.

 -BISP

Indian woman, locked in dark room for 20 years, rescued

NEW DELHI: Her world came crashing down when she figured that the Mumbai man she had married already had a wife. Heartbroken, she came back home in north Goa but her family could not cope with her ‘abnormal behaviour’ and locked her up in a room.

It was her world for the next 20 years, reported NDTV.

When a team of women police officers rescued her, she was naked and was reluctant to move out of the dirty room, a senior Goa police officer told news agency Press Trust of India. The woman, reported to be in her fifties, hadn’t stepped out in a long time.

It turned out that the woman had been locked in a dark room at the rear of her parents’ house for nearly 20 years. Her only contact with the world outside was a window, through which ‘she was served food and water’ by her two brothers and their family who lived in the ancestral house.

The shocking incident took place in Candolim village, not far from the beach resorts that draw thousands of tourists from within the country and abroad. The police have sent the woman for treatment.

The team had raided the house on information provided by ‘Bailancho Saad’, a civil society group that works for women’s rights. The non-profit had received a tip-off over email from a person who claimed to have seen the woman.

Quoting her family members, the police officer said the woman had married a man from Mumbai. But she returned home after learning that he already had a wife.

“Her family members locked her in the room after she started behaving abnormally after her return from Mumbai,” the officer said, according to PTI. “We have yet to arrest anyone in this case. The investigation is still at primary stage. The statement of family members of the woman is being recorded.”

-Samaa Tv

Indian man shoots wife over delay in serving dinner

GHAZIABAD: A man shot dead his 55-year-old wife allegedly over delay in serving dinner at their house in Ghaziabad late Saturday night, reported Times of India. The accused, Ashok Kumar, 60, was arrested on Sunday.

The incident took place around 11:45 pm on Saturday in Mansarovar Park Colony within the limits of the Kavi Nagar police station. The victim, Sunaina, was rushed to the Sarvodaya Hospital in Kavi Nagar with a gunshot wound to her head. However, doctors at the hospital declared her dead on arrival. “The patient was already dead by the time she was brought to the hospital. There was no pulse on her,” hospital CMO Dr Neeraj Garg told TOI.

According to the police, Kumar used to ply a mini-truck, which he owned, along with his younger son, Tinku, 28. His elder son, Rinku, 32, plies a private taxi. The police registered an FIR against Kumar in Kavi Nagar police station late Saturday night on the basis of a complaint registered by his son, Rinku. Apart from the two brothers, Rinku’s wife, Soni, 28, and her two children aged seven and four years, were also present in the house at the time of the incident. Rinku said that the children were asleep in another room when the fight broke out between his parents.

“Around 9pm, my father returned home drunk and asked my mother for dinner around 11pm,” said Rinku. “A quarrel broke out between them as my mother refused to serve food immediately. Infuriated over the delay, my father whipped out a gun and threatened her. My wife, Tinku and I tried to intervene. But he opened fire and the bullet hit my mother in the head. She collapsed at the spot.”

The accused was taken into custody and later arrested, said local police outpost incharge Ajay Verma, adding he has confessed to the crime. “The police have found a single spent cartridge from the house,” he said. “The weapon used in the crime, a .315 bore revolver, had also been seized. The gun seized from him is illegal and we are trying to ascertain the source from which he procured it.”

-Samaa Tv

Indian woman ‘forced to marry Pakistani man’ repatriated

Indian national Uzma who alleged she was forced and duped into marrying a Pakistani man was repatriated to her country on Thursday following court orders.

Indian external affairs ministers Sushma Swaraj welcomed Uzma as she returned to India via the Wagah border. “Uzma – Welcome home India’s daughter. I am sorry for all that you have gone through,” Swaraj tweeted.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday allowed Uzma to return to her country days after she claimed she was duped and forced into marrying a Pakistani man. Soon after the hearing, Uzma left the court for the Indian High Commission where she stayed until she was sent back.

Rejoiced over the news of Uzma’s return to her homeland, her brother Wasim said, “Very happy to hear that Uzma is back, but don’t know when she will be back in Delhi, her flight is delayed,” reported Times of India. He even thanked the Indian government for assisting him in the safe return of her sister.

Uzma, 20, had travelled to Pakistan earlier this month. “My Pakistani husband forced me to marry him on gunpoint and even harassed me,” she said. Uzma had approached the Islamabad High Court on May 12 to arrange her journey back to Delhi amid security and to issue duplicate travel documents which were allegedly stolen by Tahir.

-Tribune

Senate to protect transgenders’ rights

ISLAMABAD: Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Friday said that the upper house of parliament would play its due role in protecting the rights of the transgender community and work on the necessary legislation in this regard.

He expressed these views while meeting with a delegation of Task Force on Transgender at the Parliament House.

Rabbani said that the Senate had taken notice of an incident in which a person who is transgender was targeted and the matter was referred to the committee on marginalised segments with a view to look into the issues confronting the transgender community so that they could be brought into the mainstream.

In this regard, the Senate chairman said that a standing committee was in the process of formulating its recommendations for legislation to this effect.

He asked the chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Marginalised Segments and the chairperson of the Taskforce on Transgenders to deliberate on the problems the transgender community was facing and take other stakeholders on board for necessary legislation, including a judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the matter.

Rabbani further said that a comprehensive bill should be introduced in the Senate on the matter.

Representatives of the transgender community told Rabbani about the issues they face.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2017.

Woman gets rape, murder threats after urinating on American flag

NEWS DESK: A woman who shared a video of herself urinating on an American flag has been receiving rape and murder threats, reported BBC. She has asked that people stop targeting her family, saying they do not support her actions.

Emily Lance received online threats of murder and rape after posting the video during Independence Day celebrations.

Her account is no longer on Facebook but she previously posted that her father and his workplace had also been ‘targeted’, reports say.

Desecrating a US flag is not illegal due to strong freedom of speech laws.

In the video, Lance is seen standing over a toilet on which a US flag is draped, and urinating on it with the aid of a device that allows women to do so standing up.

She captioned it with: ‘F*** your nationalism. F*** your country. F*** your stupid f****** flag’.

Later, she made a plea for her opponents not to ‘take your anger out on the wrong people’, saying no one in her family ‘agrees with my shenanigans’.

“They’ve got nothing to do with my decisions,” she continued.

She did not explain how her father and his workplace had been ‘targeted’.

“What don’t you people understand? You’re celebrating freedom while damning me for doing the same. You can’t have it both ways,” she said.

-Samaa Tv

Raped teenager jailed for 30 years in El Salvador for ‘killing baby’

A teenager has been jailed for 30 years after suffering what her lawyers said was a miscarriage, after she was raped a year ago, reported The Independent.

A court in El Salvador, a country that has perhaps the world’s most strictest laws on reproductive rights, found that Evelyn Beatriz Hernández Cruz, 19, had killed her baby by throwing it into a latrine pit after she gave birth. It convicted her of aggravated homicide.

Activists say the sentence is simply the latest in a series of cases in which women are sent to jail, frequently for 30 or 40 years, after suffering miscarriages. Lawyers for the teenager are to file an appeal.

“The judgment sentencing Evelyn to 30 years in prison shows how in El Salvador justice is applied without direct proof, without sufficient evidence that clarifies what a woman has done,” said Morena Herrera, Executive Director of the Citizen’s Group for the Decriminalisation of Abortion.

“In this case, Evelyn did not kill her newborn child. She simply experienced an obstetric emergency and the state prosecutor has badly interpreted the facts and unfortunately the judge hasn’t listened to the witnesses that told her there was no direct proof.”

In a statement, she added: “We’re going to appeal this decision. Luckily, we still have recourse within the judicial system that – as we’ve demonstrated in other moments – can be effective so that women unjustly sentenced like Evelyn can regain their freedom.”

Prosecutors told the court that the teenager had aborted the foetus and thrown its remains into a latrine at her home in Cojutepeque, 25 miles east of the country’s capital, San Salvador.

One of the teenager’s lawyers, Dennis Muñoz, had argued his client had an out-of-hospital birth in April last year because he did not even know she was pregnant and had confused labour pains with stomach ache.

“We think it’s important that this injustice is known in El Salvador – that because of a prejudice, for being a woman, for having a stillbirth that she didn’t have control over – she was convicted,” said Muñoz.

The case has played out against the backdrop of an ongoing fight for reproductive rights in the Central American nation. There are a small handful of countries that do not permit abortion under circumstances. Activists say, no country prosecutes the law with as much aggression as the staunchly Catholic El Salvador.

Prior to 1998, abortion was permitted in cases of rape, incest, where a foetus was injured or if the mother’s life was in danger.

That year, under pressure from the church and rightwing politicians, the law was changed to remove any exceptions whatsoever. Some estimates have suggested that between 1998 and 2013, more than 600 women have been jailed after being accused of having had an abortion.

Late in 2016, a bill was introduced in the El Salvador Assembly that would decriminalise abortion in cases where a pregnancy puts the life and health of the woman at risk, a medical diagnosis where the foetus cannot survive, a pregnancy resulting from sexual violence or human trafficking.

El Diario De Hoy reported that Muñoz will file an appeal. He said he was ultimately prepared to take the case to the country’s Supreme Court if he had to.

Amnesty International said the episode underscored the need for El Salvador to repeal its ‘retrograde anti-abortion law’.

“El Salvador’s anti-abortion law is causing nothing but pain and suffering to countless women and girls and their families,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, the group’s Americas Director. “It goes against human rights and it has no place in the country or anywhere.”

-Samaa Tv

Two Indian women get ‘married’ in defiance of law

Two women in Bengaluru, India are on the run from family and law after they got ‘married’ at a temple in Koramangala, reported Bangalore Mirror.

The 25-year-old and 21-year-old women whose names have not been revealed are said to be distant relatives and got married in what is being called the first lesbian wedding in the city.

Same-sex marriages are not legal in India and the parents of the younger woman have filed a complaint with the police and are now ‘counselling’ the couple to “make them realise” the negative fallout of their decision.

In a statement to the police, the older woman said she was attracted to her ‘wife’ when the younger one was in her teens. However, because she belonged to an orthodox family, she was initially met with rejection. The 25-year-old later won her over and in May both decided to run away from their homes knowing their parents would not accept their relationship.

A missing person’s report was filed with the police. While the duo was traced, the police said they could not do anything as both women are adults.

Former public prosecutor S Doreraju told Bangalore Mirror, “Lesbian marriage is not recognised and is a punishable offence under Section 377, provided one of them becomes a complainant. Parents of both the women can also lodge a complaint but not under IPC section 377. They can give other reasons such as ‘psychological imbalance’ or ‘negatively influencing’ the other woman.”

Gowthaman Ranga, of the Alternative Law Forum, said that since both are adults, nobody should persecute them under Section 377. “The 2013 judgement categorically says that one cannot be booked under Section 377 based on identity [gays or lesbians]. However, it varies from case to case.”

-Tribune

Muslim man in India puts on burka to avoid getting lynched

AGRA: Given the increasing incidents of lynching, the Muslim minority in India seems to be getting more insecure with each passing day, reported Times of India. Nazmul Hassan, a 42-year-old assistant engineer in Aligarh’s Kasimpur power station was caught at the railway station Sunday afternoon wearing a burka. Alerted by other travellers, GRP men observed his suspicious movements for some time before they detained him. When questioned by police and intelligence officials, Hassan told them that he wanted to conceal his identity as he was scared of being lynched for being a Muslim man.

Hassan told police officials that he had to frequent Delhi to take care of an ailing cousin and had accidentally pushed a man while alighting at the Aligarh railway station last week. According to Hassan, the man insulted him and his religion in full public view and threatened him openly, as others joined in, that they would not allow him to live in the city. “I had read about Junaid’s killing in a train in Ballabhgarh a few days ago. I was scared for my life after the threat, but couldn’t avoid travelling. So I thought of wearing a burka,” Hassan told cops.

Though he was released by police after questioning, his act left senior police officials wondering about the extent of increasing insecurity among minorities.

Senior superintendent of police Rajesh Pandey said they had verified Hassan’s claims and have so far found nothing amiss in them. He said, “When Hassan was handed over to the GRP, he was crying and shaking and kept repeating that he is a simple man who has never done anything wrong.” Pandey said Hassan was released after questioning and they are in touch with him.

Hassan said as he had to go to Delhi on Sunday to visit his ailing cousin, he was scared to travel alone but he could not find anyone to accompany him. Senior sub-inspector (GRP), who is also the investigating officer in Hassan’s case, said, “We found nothing suspicious in his statement to police. Different agencies verified that his act of wearing burka was born out of his fear following the incident that occurred with him at the railway station last week.”

-Samaa Tv

BJP worker arrested in India for ‘raping’ former student

NAGPUR: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was left red-faced after 48-year-old Ravindra Bawanthade, a BJP worker and supervisor at a school at Nagbhid in Chandrapur district, was arrested on Monday for allegedly raping his former 19-year-old student in a Gadchiroli-bound bus on June 27 last month, reported Times of India.

The instance was recorded in the CCTV camera fitted at the rear end of the bus’ interior. The driver and his cleaners made the video viral on social media after recording the footage in their mobile phones.

As per the FIR, this is the second time Ravindra had forced himself upon the survivor in a vehicle. She has claimed before the police that Ravindra had earlier forced himself upon her in his car near Navarkhed on the way to Nagbhid from Nagpur. In the latest incident, the survivor was lured to come along with him to the city after Ravindra promised her a job in a hospital in Nagpur. It was on their way back when Ravindra seemed to have forced himself upon her between Bhiwapur and Nagbhid.

Ravindra had also promised to marry the survivor, who is the third among four sisters, despite being married. The survivor belongs to a family from a weaker economic stratum. Sources also claimed that there was also an earlier allegation of similar nature against Ravindra around a year ago but nothing came to the fore. The school management has now placed Ravindra under suspension and is also likely to dismiss him.

Police said Ravindra was seated along the aisle while the survivor was sitting beside the window in the bus, which had a handful of passengers in the front rows. There was no one behind the seats where Ravindra and the survivor were seated. No one seemed to have got any hint of the crime taking place in the back seat. The conductor of the said bus Rakesh Khobragade spotted the two in a compromising position. Ravindra had claimed that he was trying to attend to her as she was not feeling well but Khobragade had sensed something foul, which he had later divulged to driver Sarangdhar Ramteke.

Khobragade and Ramteke then sought help from another conductor, Macchindra Sahare, who operated in a different bus, to retrieve the footage and record it on their mobile phones before sharing with each other. By July 1 this month, the clip had gone viral. Ravindra, too, had come to know about it.

Apart from Ravindra, Nagbhid police have also nabbed Khobragade, Ramteke and Sahare for making the footage of the rape viral on various social media. The three have been charged with relevant sections of Information technology act for sharing the obscene clip. Ravindra, after being produced before a lower court on Tuesday, was sent to police custody till July 6.

PI BD Madavi of Nagbhid police station in Chandrapur said the shared clip had landed in the mobile phone of one of the kin of the survivor who opted to verify the matter from the exploited student before approaching the cops. “Police had sought four days of custody for Ravindra but [were] granted two days by the court. The three arrested on Tuesday would be produced before court on Wednesday,” he said.

It was also learnt that Ravindra had also visited the survivor at her place in the past promising to marry her soon. The survivor has also claimed in her report that Ravindra had purchased her a mobile phone in the past. Ravindra used to engage her in lengthy conversations.

The probe is now being conducted under supervision of Chandrapur SP Niyati Thaker and SDPO Prashant Pardeshi.

Though Gadchiroli BJP MP and district president Ashok Nete tried to distance Ravindra from his party stating that he was already sidelined and ousted for not showing any keen interest in the activities, he admitted his long association with the party. Nete, however, praised Ravindra’s brother Bharat who is a prominent BJP leader in the Armori district of Gadchiroli.

-Samaa tv

Indian bride calls off wedding with ‘rape-accused’ groom

BAREILLY: In a bizarre turn of events, a bride called off her wedding on the day she was to tie the knot after learning that her would-be groom is an accused in a rape case, reported Times of India. She said she did not want to spend her entire life with someone who was accused of violating a woman.

Initially, the groom’s side was taken aback but relented later. Both families, with the help of the panchayat, have now reached a settlement and are in the process of returning gifts and money.

Bhanu Pratap, 24, a resident of Bhulaniya village under Devraniya police station, claimed that the charges against him were motivated. But he failed to convince the bride to change her mind.

All the preparations were in place for the wedding at the bride’s house at Kundra village under Nawabganj police station Saturday evening. Hours before the marriage was to be solemnised, a relative tipped the bride’s side that the groom was accused of rape.

According to witnesses, the bride’s side went into a tizzy on learning about the groom. The rumour spread like wildfire that the bride had refused to go ahead with the wedding. The groom and his relatives tried their best to convince the bride’s family that the case was lodged by the groom’s uncle to settle old scores but she refused to budge.

It was later found that the rape survivor had turned hostile during the investigation. “A case of rape against Bhanu Pratap was filed in June this year. We are about to close the case as the rape survivor has turned hostile and changed her statement before the magistrate. All the charges have been found to be motivated,” Vimlesh Singh, station house officer at Baradari police station, told TOI.

-Samaa Tv

Indian rape survivor attacked with acid for fifth time

LUCKNOW: A woman, who had survived an alleged gang rape and four separate acid attacks, has once again been assaulted using corrosive liquid, Indian police said on Sunday.

The 35-year-old mother, who was allegedly gang-raped in 2008 over a property dispute, was at a women’s hostel in Uttar Pradesh state capital Lucknow when a man scaled the walls and poured the chemical onto her.

“She was filling water at the hand pump when the attack took place. The attacker fled from the spot,” Vivek Tripathi, the local police chief told AFP.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, suffered burn injuries to her face and shoulder and is undergoing treatment at a hospital.

Police have launched a manhunt to identify the assailant, the officer said.

Because of the previous string of attacks, the woman was under round-the-clock police protection, but an armed policeman guarding her was barred from entering the women’s hostel.

The woman was allegedly gang-raped and attacked with acid by two men in 2008 over a property dispute.

She has subsequently been attacked twice more by the same men, in 2012 and 2013, in a bid to force her to withdraw the criminal cases against them.

Most recently, the two man allegedly forced her to drink acid while she was travelling on a train with one of her daughters in March this year.

The two men are facing trials over all the attacks, but they were released on bail in April.

Around 300 acid attacks were reported in India in 2015, according to the latest official crime figures, which experts say represent only the tip of the iceberg.

India brought in stringent laws to deal with the acid attacks in 2013 following public outcry over the plight of hundreds of survivors who battle lifelong scars and social stigma.

The country’s top court banned the sale of acid to the public in 2013 to curb such attacks, although the have largely continued unabated.

Most attacks are carried out by men taking revenge for spurned marriage proposals or over property disputes.

Tribune

Indian policeman arrested for ‘raping’ daughter inside check post

An Indian police officer was arrested on charges of raping his daughter inside a police post in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

The assistant sub-inspector, posted at Manth chowki of Mathura at the Agra-Delhi Yamuna Expressway, was set to retire after three days, reported Times of India.

According to his colleagues, it was difficult for them to believe that the 58-year-old who was looking forward to be with his grown-up sons and grandchildren in superannuation could do something like this with his 35-year-old married daughter.

“The accused has been arrested and placed under suspension,” circle officer Sanjay Kumar Sagar said, adding the daughter has filed a complaint alleging that the cop raped her when she had come to meet him at the police post on Monday.

Meanwhile, police sources said the accused has admitted to his crime and also claimed that his daughter ‘provoked’ him to do this. “During preliminary investigation, the woman revealed her father had physically abused her when she was a 14-year-old,” they said. “After her marriage, her sexual exploitation stopped and she didn’t suspect that her father would assault her again after so long.”

In her complaint, the victim maintained that she came to Agra for some medical tests and since it got late, she decided to stay with her father at the post for the night and come back to Agra for more tests instead of going to her in-laws’ house in Firozabad.

“I thought my father must have changed in so many years, but I was proved wrong,” she told police. Soon after the incident, she called up her husband who came to the spot and called the police.

-Samaa

Trans community lauds govt’s decision to issue passport with transgender category

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s transgender community has welcomed the government’s decision to issue its first passport with a transgender category as an important milestone in the struggle against discrimination.

Last week, the government issued a passport to prominent transgender activist Farzana Jan with an X to symbolise the ‘third sex’ printed under the gender category of the travel document.

Jan, who is president of the charity Trans Action Pakistan, said the introduction of the X classification – along with M for Male and F for Female – was a significant step in the community’s fight for legal recognition in Pakistan.

“Men and women both have been given their identity, but we were deprived of this right. We are happy there is a growing realisation that we should be given our identity,” Jan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We also want to see how the outside world is. But we have been facing many problems with regard to complications in our travel documents. But, thank God, this issue has now been resolved,” she added.

There is no official data on the population of transgender people in Pakistan, but Trans Action Pakistan estimates they number at least half a million in a country of 190 million.

Transgender people technically enjoy better rights in Pakistan than in many other nations across the world, but in practice, they are marginalised and face discrimination when it comes to health, education and jobs. They often face violence and stigma.

The Supreme Court has in recent years taken steps towards recognising their basic rights. In 2009, the court ruled that “hijras” – which include transvestites, transsexuals and eunuchs – could get national identity cards as a “third sex.”

Since then it has also declared equal rights for transgender people, including the right to inherit property and assets, the right to vote and to be counted as a separate category in the country’s national census.

Last year there was a spate of attacks on transgender people in the north-west province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). After one attack, an activist died in hospital after being shot multiple times by a friend. Her friends accused the hospital of delays in her treatment, with staff unsure whether to admit her to a male or female ward.

“The main challenge for us is to change society’s behaviour,” Jan said. “We have largely been confined to the four walls of our houses because we are harassed, terrorised and ridiculed by the people.”

-Tribune

Minorities enjoy equal rights in Pakistan: Governor Punjab

Punjab Governor Malik Muhammad Rafiq Rajwana has said the minorities enjoy equal rights in Pakistan.

He was talking to Chairmen Evacuee Trust Property Board Siddiq Ul Farooq, who called on him in Lahore today.

The Governor said Hindus, Sikhs and Christians are our Pakistani brethren. He said their religious places are fully secure and special quota in education and jobs has been fixed for them.

Siddiq Ul Farooq said the board is working on rehabilitation and renovation of Katas Raj Temple and constructing special buildings for the accommodation of Sikh Yatrees across the country. -Radio Pakistan

Two of seven gang-rape suspects arrested, Sindh IGP told

KARACHI/SUKKUR: Amid a public uproar in the media over alleged gang-rape of a 12-year-old housemaid by seven suspects at her employers’ house in Malir, Karachi, the Kandhkot SSP, Samiullah Soomro on Tuesday informed Inspector General of Police A.D. Khowaja through the Larkana DIG that two of the suspects had been arrested and a hunt for others was on.

The incident, which reportedly took place four to five days ago, had triggered public protests after it was aired by some private TV channels. The IGP taking notice of the incident asked the SSP to immediately seek details of the FIR (74/2017) registered at the A-Section police station of Kandhkot against the seven suspects.

According to a spokesman for the IGP, the SSP was also asked to provide to the provincial police chief the progress report of the investigation into the matter and ensure protection to the victim and her family.

The spokesman said that the suspects and victims belonged to Kandhkot. He said that soon after the incident, the suspects had informed the victim’s family that she was not well and that she should be taken to her home for treatment.

However, he said, she narrated her ordeal at her employers’ house only after it transpired during her medical examination in a local hospital that she was subjected to gang rape.

In his report, the Kandhkot SSP said that raiding teams had already been formed to arrest the remaining suspects.

Meanwhile, local leaders, activists and supporters of the Sindh United Party (SUP) and Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) took out separate rallies in Kandhkot on Tuesday to demand arrest of all suspects.

The SUP rally was led by Shahnawaz Marhato and the JSQM rally by Akram Bajkani.

Both rallies started from the Clock Tower area and ended outside the local press club.

The participants raised slogans against the suspects and demanded their immediate arrest. They also demanded suitable medical treatment for the victim and said justice be done to the affected family.

The culprits must be taken to task, they said.

Published in Dawn

Banned custom: 12-year-old girl forced into marriage to settle dispute

MULTAN: A 12-year-old girl’s fate was decided by a panchayat when it ordered her family to marry her off as vani to settle a kidnapping dispute in Bhakkar on Sunday.

A police official told The Express Tribune that a few months ago, Nadia Bibi, daughter of Muhammad Rustam, was kidnapped by Muhammad Idrees, son of Imam Bakhsh. “When the matter was taken to the panchayat, it ordered that Idrees’s sister Samina Bibi should be married to Nadia’s brother Abid, 14,” he added.

He said the members of the panchayat implemented their decision and forcibly conducted the Nikkah of Abid and Samina on May 6, 2017 without the consent of the girl’s family.

Meanwhile, girl’s father Allah Ditta registered a complaint at Darya Khan police station under Section 310 of PPC against 12 people, including Rustam, Ghulam Akbar, Ghulam Qasim, Haq Nawaz, Muhammad Zameer and the cleric Mufti Muhammad Azeem.

He demanded that his daughter should be divorced as the Nikkah was held forcibly and against their wishes. He said those responsible should be arrested and awarded punishment.

The police said investigation in the case was underway while teams were dispatched to arrest the culprits.

Earlier in April 2017, a woman sought police help after a panchayat in Jhang district reportedly ordered that her 11-year-old girl be married off to a 14-year-old boy as vani to settle a rape case.

Nusrat Bibi filed a complaint with police stating that her son Imran worked at a factory in Haripur in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where her in-laws accused him of committing rape.

In a bid to resolve the matter, a panchayat was held in Shorkot, Jhang in which 10 people participated.

The panchayat decided to give Nusrat’s 11-year-old daughter as vani to be married off to Nadeem, 14.

According to Nusrat, the marriage was supposed to take place on April 19 but she and her two daughters escaped the house the night before and went to Khanewal to her parents’ house. She added her in-laws had been threatening her and have registered fake FIRS against her accusing her of kidnap and murder to intimidate her.

Published in The Express Tribune

Woman killed by father, brother in the name of ‘honour’

KARACHI: A father in collusion with his son strangled his daughter to death in Karachi’s Kemari area late Sunday. The woman’s body was found in a house near Kemari’s Maan roundabout, the police said.

The deceased, identified as Farzana, was strangled by her father and brother in what appeared to be a case of honour killing.

Both the accused, Ghulam Nabi and Nabeel, were arrested and admitted to the murder, the police told Geo News.

In a separate incident late Sunday, a car hit a passerby near Gulshan roundabout in Karachi’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal locality.

Guards travelling in the car injured the passerby after they opened fire on him following the incident.

The police arrested all four individuals including three guards accused of involvement in the incident. -DAWN

Indian woman ‘goes missing’ from Indian High Commission in Islamabad, Pakistani husband claims

Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria on Sunday said that an Indian woman ─ married to a Pakistani man ─ who ‘went missing’ from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad last week is ‘stranded’ inside the building.

Uzma, an Indian national, met Tahir Ali, a resident of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while the latter was working as a taxi driver in Malaysia eight months ago, according to a request for help lodged at Islamabad’s Secretariat Police Station by Ali.

The two contracted a court marriage on May 3 in Buner, two days after Uzma arrived in Pakistan via the Wagah border.

After the couple tied the knot, Uzma called her brother in New Delhi to relay the news to him. Her brother asked her to visit India on her honeymoon and told her she could find a man named Adnan at the Indian embassy who would be able to sort out their visas for the trip, Ali alleged.

In his request, Ali claimed, “At the Indian embassy window, she asked about Adnan. A while later, a man came out and took her inside through gate number six. I waited and waited, and then at 7pm I asked at the embassy gate if my wife Uzma was inside. They told me no one was inside.”

He added that he then returned to the main gate on a shuttle bus, and noted that none of the three phones surrendered to the embassy by the couple at the time of entrance were returned to him, and his wife also remained missing.

The man asked the police to help him resolve the matter.

The FO said the Indian High Commission confirmed to police and the media that the woman is present inside the building but would only be let go after the matter is discussed with the FO.

Secretariat Police Station House Officer Hakim Khan confirmed he had contacted the diplomatic mission, but officials denied speaking to police, saying they would only speak to the FO.

The FO added that it is in contact with the Indian High Commission, and the issue would be resolved soon. -Dawn

Project for out-of-school children launched in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: In order to get more out-of-school children back into classrooms and to make sure they catch up quick, an Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) was launched in the capital by the Minister of Education Muhammad Balighur Rahman.

The programme offers primary education equivalent of up to class five for out-of-school children allowing them to catch up with their peers in less than three years.

The curriculum has been developed by the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) under the agency’s Advancing Quality Alternative Learning (AQAL) project.
The project particularly caters to those children who have never been to primary school – due to poor socio-economic backgrounds, religious and ethnic compulsions, poor results, physical or mental challenges – but are too old to go back and attend those classes.

While launching the programme, Rehman congratulated the cross-institutional committee which had been tasked with devising the curriculum. The minister also thanked JICA for their contribution.

“It becomes difficult for over-age children, who have missed out on schooling during their early years to adjust in the conventional classroom environment. The ALP provides them with a convenient second opportunity to catch up on lost time,” the minister he said. JICA Chief Representative Tojo Yasuhiro noted that the AQAL project would pave the way for out-of-school children to re-connect to education, build their lives and become productive members of the society.

Federal Education Secretary Haseeb Athar said alternative learning as part of the non-formal education was essential to bridge the in and the out-of-school gap.

Published in The Express Tribune

Muzaffargarh woman commits suicide after being raped and tortured by ‘faith healer’

MULTAN: A newly-wed woman committed suicide in Shah Jamal, Muzaffargarh after a fake ‘faith healer’ allegedly raped and tortured her as part of an exorcism.

According to the Shah Jamal police, 20-year-old Nusrat Bibi lived in Goram Bagraoun and got married to Akram one month ago. Her mother-in-law Mumtaz Mai believed she was possessed and took her a local faith healer named Qari Iqbal for an exorcism.

Police further said that Iqbal told Mai that Nusrat was under the influence of evil spirits and needed a ‘healing treatment’ to drive them out or she would not be able to have a child.

As part of the ‘treatment’, the fake faith healer tortured the young woman with hot knives and rods, leaving severe injuries on her hands, feet and body.

When Nusrat returned home, she consumed poison, said police, adding that she appeared to have also been raped before the torture, but a complete autopsy report has yet to be received.

The family took her to Shah Jamal District Hospital where she died.

Mai told police that she regularly went to the accused faith healer for spiritual advice and that is why she took Nusrat to him as well.

Upon the complaint, police raided Iqbal’s workplace, but he had already escaped.

Further investigation is under way, the police said.

-Express Tribune

12-year-old maid tortured, pushed out of the house

FAISALABAD: In yet another seething incident of child abuse, a 12-year-old maid was tortured and pushed out of the house by her employers in Faisalabad on Tuesday.

A police official said Samiah was working at the house of Jawad in Civil Lines area. The locals saw the girl and torture marks on her body after which they informed the police. Later, they gathered outside Jawad’s house and protested against the treatment meted out to the girl.

Subsequently, Civil Lines police reached the site, but when the personnel tried to talk to Jawad, a man came out of his house, who said he was a guest at the house. He told the police that Jawad was not home, adding Samiah was sent to the house by her paternal grandmother and that her parents were not alive.

The police took Samiah in their custody and said the matter will be taken further after medical examination of the girl.

A similar case was reported a few months ago when 10-year-old maid Tayyaba was allegedly tortured by her employers, Additional District and Sessions Judge Raja Khurram Ali and his wife Maheen Zafar, in Islamabad. Although the case is being pursued by Islamabad High Court after the Supreme Court of Pakistan took suo motu notice of the matter, the girl’s parents said they did not want to pursue the case further.

Published in The Express Tribune

Police arrest man for honour killing

LAHORE: Police claimed to have arrested a suspect who kidnapped a child after killing the minor’s parents in Nishtar Colony on Tuesday.

Police said Shehryar opened fire at Zameer who was working at a carpet manufacturing unit near his house. The victim suffered bullet injuries. The suspect then entered into house of the victim and shot at his wife Kainat.

The injured were admitted to a nearby hospital where doctors pronounced them dead on arrival. Police said Shehryar also kidnapped one-and-a-half year old son of the victims with him while fleeing from the scene.

Girl found dead in well, police suspect brother killed her for ‘honour’

Police said the couple was a resident of Charsada and had contracted a love marriage. They settled in Lahore a year ago. Zameer was killed by his uncle Sheharyar Khan for honour. A surge in the incidents of of honour killings has claimed many lives.

Published in The Express Tribune

Legislation sought for protection of women at homes, workplaces

PESHAWAR: Speakers at a seminar have urged government to implement all the existing laws preventing harassment and focus on legislation to provide protection to women both at workplaces and homes.

The seminar was organized by Da Hawa Loor, a civil society organisation, at Peshawar Press Club on Monday. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Deputy Speaker Dr Mehr Taj Roghani was chief guest on the occasion Labour Department Director Irfan Khan, Da Hawa Loor CEO Khurshid Bano, Maliha Hussain, Shawana Shah, Awami Workers Party representative Ismat Shahjahan and TransAction Association president Farna Jan addressed the seminar.

Khurshid Bano said that there were at least 20 million home-based workers in the country and 73 per cent of them were women. She said that those workers contributed to national economy but they were deprived of their basic rights.

Speakers seek strict enforcement of existing laws to stop harassment

She urged government to adopt legislative and policy reforms for development of home-based workers at national and provincial level. She also demanded development schemes for women in addition to equal share in the national and provincial budgets for workers. She said that home-based workers should be recognised as labourers.

Ismat Shahjahan said that after passage of 18th Amendment, provinces were independent in making legislation, releasing and increasing wages of workers but Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government failed to pay salaries to employees of Workers Welfare Board during the past many months.
Maliha Hussain, chief of NGO Mehergarh, said that laws were passed for women protection but those were yet to be implemented in real sense. She said that parents avoided sending their daughters to workplaces for fear of harassment.

She said that government should focus on legislation and implementation as well to ensure protection to women both at workplaces and homes. She urged collective steps to discourage harassers.

Irfan Khan claimed on the occasion that government focused on institutional reforms process to check gender-based discrimination. He said that for the first time, five women labour officers were hired to check industrial workers in different parts of the province.

Dr Mehr Taj Roghani counted a number of laws adopted by the provincial government to protect women workers. She said that salaries of Workers Welfare Board employees could not be released owing to probe into illegal appointments during the previous government. Dr Roghani also sought proposals from the participants to improve working conditions for women.

Published in Dawn

Man escapes to Dubai after wife’s murder in hotel

KARACHI: The body of a young woman was found hanging with a ceiling fan in a Saddar hotel on Sunday morning, police said.

They, however, believed that it was not a case of suicide since the victim’s husband, who was staying with her, left the hotel early morning.

SSP-South Saqib Ismail Memon told Dawn that Farheen, 28, and her husband Shaheer were staying in a Saddar hotel after their marriage since the victim’s in-laws did not accept her as their daughter-in-law.

He said the hotel staff found the body in the room and informed the police about it.

He said the victim’s husband was however missing. Later, the SSP said, police came to know that her husband “fled to Dubai” via an early morning flight.

The body was taken to the Civil Hospital Karachi for a post-mortem examination. Police Surgeon Aijaz Khokhar told Dawn that the woman was strangled with the help of a rope.

“The very fact that her husband fled gives sufficient reason to investigators to treat it as a murder case,” the SSP said.

An FIR was lodged at the Preedy police station against the victim’s husband on the complaint of the victim’s mother, Summiya.

Another police officer said that Farheen, a resident of Bahria Town in Islamabad, occasionally worked for a private TV channel as a model.

Published in Dawn

Child maid torture: Girl’s parents again pardon judge, wife

ISLAMABAD: Parents of a 10-year-old girl, who was allegedly employed and tortured by a sessions judge and his wife in the capital, once again told judicial officers that they had forgiven what happened to their daughter.

During Friday’s hearing of the case against Additional District and Sessions Judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife Maheen Zafar for allegedly torturing and illegally confining a juvenile working as a maid in their home, the girl’s parents submitted affidavits.

The girl’s father Muhammad Azam and mother Nusrat Bibi told Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani in the affidavits that they had forgiven the judge and his wife “in the name of God”.

The family further stated that they had looked into the case which had been registered against the judge and his wife “on the basis of false and baseless incidents”.

Subsequently, they stated, they had struck a compromise with the judge and his family through their own free will and without any pressure or fear.

Stating that the matter between the parties stood settled, they expressed their satisfaction that the “co-accused are innocent”.

Azam and Nusrat stated that they do not wish to pursue the case, and would have no objection if the suspects were granted bail or were acquitted.

“Nothing has been concealed,” they stated, adding that they had handed over the child’s custody to the judge and his family since they were too poor to look after their daughter properly.

Terming allegations against the judge and his wife as ‘baseless and a conspiracy’ the family told Justice Kayani that Judge Khan had filed a missing person report after the girl had gone missing on December 27, 2016.

Moreover, the prosecution provided copies of the case to the suspects in compliance with the court’s orders.

Justice Kayani subsequently issued notices to the police. Officials were directed to submit their replies by May 5 even though Justice Kayani had on Thursday ordered to hear the case on a daily basis.

Earlier in January, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had taken suo moto notice of the incident and had exercised parental jurisdiction in the case even as a district court approved a compromise between the girl’s parents and the judge.

Published in The Express Tribune

Man gets life in jail for sexually abusing girl

PESHAWAR: A local court has convicted a person of taking away and sexually molesting a young girl for two months and sentenced him to life imprisonment with fine of Rs250,000.

The court of additional district and sessions judge Ali Gohar pronounced that the prosecution had proved its case against the accused, Iftikhar Khan, and the evidence on record connected him with the commission of the offence.

The court, however, acquitted two women accused stated to be wife and sister of the convict, giving them benefit of doubt.

During pendency of the trial the victim and her mother were also killed and for that offence brothers of the convict were charged.

An assistant public prosecutor, Ms Meena Qaiser, stated that the accused was charged in the FIR registered at Khazana police station on Nov 5, 2013, under section 376 (rape), 337 J (using intoxicant) and 496 A (enticing away a woman on criminal intention). He argued that the victim had herself deposed against the accused and her medical examination also corroborated the prosecution’s version of the case.

She stated that the accused had enticed away the victim with the help of his wife and sister by telling her that she should join them for a picnic. She added that later intoxicant was used on the victim. She added that the accused continued to sexually abuse the victim for two months following which he let her go.

The court convicted the accused on all three counts. The accused was awarded life imprisonment under section 376, and five years imprisonment each under section 337 J and 496 A. All the sentences have to run concurrently.

Published in Dawn

Landlord accused of raping married woman in Kasur village

Police in Kasur district on Thursday lodged a First Information Report (FIR) against a landlord for allegedly raping a married woman in a local village.

The accused had scaled the wall of the victim’s house on Wednesday, when the family was out harvesting, and raped 22-year-old S*, according to complainant Mohammad Younas.

The accused escaped after the assault.

Younas, who is the father of the victim, told Dawn that the accused was a landlord in the village and influential.

He said police were reluctant to arrest the accused and his fellow villagers were forcing him to reach a compromise and settle for Rs100,000.

The victim has so far refused to undergo a medical examination before the court of civil judge Mehwish Kaliar, according to Mohammad Arshad, a police official from the local police station.

The police official said the victim’s refusal to conduct a medical examination ‘raises doubts’ over her claims.

DPO Kasur Ali Nasir Rizvi has constituted a team headed by DSP Sadar Mirza Arif Rasheed to arrest the accused. -DAWN

Father poisons five children, commits suicide in Layyah

A father in Layyah poisoned and killed five of his children before ingesting pesticide himself on Thursday, police officials told DawnNews.

Tariq Ismail, a resident of Chowk Azam, gave his four daughters and son ─ ages ranging from six to 12-years-old ─ a pesticide dissolved in a drink which killed them instantly, after which he also consumed the poisonous substance allegedly due to his strained relationship with his family after his divorce.

Ismail’s mother told reporters that his wife had sought a divorce from him over a year ago, which put a great deal of pressure on his relationship with his family members and his finances.

Ismail’s children died after ingesting the poison. Doctors attempted to save Ismail, whose own condition was deemed critical. He died while being shifted to Nishtar Hospital Multan. -DAWN

From Swabi to Kurram: story of a woman kidnapped and sold thrice for marriage

Noorul Baha was only eights years old when she was kidnapped from her hometown in Swabi and sold for marriage to a family from Kurram Agency as per a tribal tradition called walwar.

According to this local custom practiced in certain parts of  Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata), the groom’s family pays the price for the bride to the girl’s family. However, in Baha’s case, the kidnapper pocketed the Rs70,000 price and no questions were asked.

“I was playing with a doll outside my house when a woman grabbed me and left; I cried for help but to no use. The next thing I know, I was sold for marriage. In Tirah Valley, paying for a bride is a common practice in certain tribes. The price varies for each person based on their body, beauty and education,” she says.

Having brought up in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Baha was unaware of the tribal customs and lifestyle. She didn’t even understand the Pashto dialect spoken in the region. However, her miseries were not limited to just that. Only three years into the marriage, her husband decided to divorce her and sell her again. Her second husband moved to Qatar for work and died there which prompted her in-laws to sell her yet one more time – this time to an aged man with two wives.

As Baha was tossed from one husband to another, she tried hard to get in touch with her family in Swabi. She recorded audio messages on cassettes and requested acquaintances to write letters on her behalf but her pleas were responded with silence. “Back then, there was no telephone service in the tribal areas and mail or tapes were the main source of communication. I sent more than 30 letters and 10 cassettes but nothing happened. I eventually gave up,” Baha shares.

After several decades, Baha saw another chance last year and leapt to it. Living as an internally displaced person at Durrani camp in Kurram Agency, Baha heard that a barat was going to Nowshera, which borders Swabi. She took permission from the elders and left with the wedding procession; she patiently waited for three days and then headed to her family home.

“I arrived in my village at noon and everything was different. I couldn’t find anyone who knew me or my parents. Luckily, I met a shopkeeper who remembered me,” Baha says, sharing that the man gave her the sad news of her parents’ death.

Upset, Baha then started looking for her brothers who had moved away to a new place. “I called a cell number and spoke to my brother. I repeated the names of my parents and siblings and he confirmed,” Baha says with a relief.

After years of struggle, Baha was finally reunited with her brother who insisted she return to Swabi and live with his family. She didn’t go as the rough mountains of Tirah are her home now.

Baha has now settled in the tribal life. She divides her time between playing with her grandchildren and working at a primary health centre. Associated with a local humanitarian organisation, Baha plays the role of a mediator between patients and doctors.

Muhammad Daud Khan is Islamabad-based freelance journalist. He tweets @daudpasaney

-Tribune

Police arrest three suspects in rape of minor boy near Chachro

Police on Wednesday arrested three men suspected of raping and murdering a teenage boy in the village of Mataro Mangria near Chachro.

The suspects ─ Muhammad Ramazan, Ali Nawaz, and Muhammad Juman ─ who were arrested during a raid in the area confessed to raping the minor, Station House Officer (SHO) Chachro Abdul Rehman Rahu

The 17-year-old victim’s brother told reporters that the boy was on his way home when the suspects accosted him on Friday night. His decomposing body was later found by villagers.

“We took the boy to a deserted place, took turns to rape him and then threw a bottle of the acid on his body due to which he died. Then we buried his body under a sand dune,” one of the suspects claimed.

The victim’s brother, who had earlier registered a First Information Report against the culprits, said that police had recovered two cellphones belonging to the victim from their possession.

He added that the police was further investigating the rape and murder of his brother, and that three or four more people may have been involved in the crime.

Dr Lekhraj, who conducted a post-mortem examination of the victim, said that his body had been badly affected by the acid and confirmed that the boy had been subjected to sexual assault.

The SHO, while speaking to Dawn, said that the suspects were being produced in a district and sessions court in Mithi later today.

The minor victim’s brother, while talking to Dawn, appealed for the case of his brother to be sent to an Anti-Terrorism Court for a summary trial. -DAWN

Brother accused of murdering mother of four in suspected ‘honour killing’

A 35-year-old mother of four was allegedly murdered by her younger brother in a suspected ‘honour killing’ on Wednesday in Sindh’s Sanghar district, police said.

Qurban Ali Shar allegedly strangled his elder sister, Sabhagi Shar, on the suspicion that she was having an affair with a man, Station House Officer (SHO) Shahpur Chakar Mohammad Ishaq Sangrasi said.

Ali Shar later surrendered to police and confessed to the crime, police said.

The body of the victim has been transferred to Shahdadpur Taluka hospital for a postmortem examination, the SHO added.

He added that if the victim’s husband, Mohammad Juman, who works in a factory in Karachi, failed to register a case, a First Information Report would be registered on behalf of the state. -DAWN

Millions of Children in Restive Pakistani Province Lack Access to Education

Nine-year-old Fahad works at a tailor shop in Peshawar with his brother to provide for their family of 11, including his six brothers, two sisters and his parents.

Making just $20 a month, his job hinders him from going to school.

“Every day on my way to work, I see students who go to school and it is very hard for me to ignore them,” Fahad told VOA. “My parents are poor and I have to work to be able to make ends meet.”

Fahad is not alone on having to trade off school for work. An estimated 3 million children have no access to formal education in the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

“Around 3 million children are not going to primary schools. The government has worked on census to have accurate statistics on out of school children,” Mushtaq Ghani, provincial government spokesperson, told VOA.

Nearly 58 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 16 are currently out of school in KP, according to Dawn, a local English language daily. Extreme poverty and lack of infrastructure remain the main reasons behind the lack of schooling.

Insecurity, terrorism

Continued insecurity and terrorism exacerbate the problem.

“There were 867 attacks on educational institutions in Pakistan from 2007 to 2015, resulting in 392 deaths,” according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch.

Over the past 10 years, several militant groups, including Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), have repeatedly conducted attacks on schools and universities across the country, particularly in the KP region.

Analysts believe that these attacks are part of an organized effort to instill fear among the masses and undermine education in the country.

“Militancy has a huge and negative impact. It made life harder and day-to-day survival is at risk in KP,” Arif Naveed, an education policy expert, told VOA.

According to analysts, ongoing counterterrorism measures in the country have also added to the problem.

As a result of ongoing military operations in the tribal region, thousands of children have not been able to attend school. The military operations have displaced over a million people in the region, making it extremely difficult to continue sending their children, particularly girls, to school.

“Many schools were demolished, infrastructure destroyed and a lot of lives were lost as a result of terrorism and counterterrorism activities in the province,” Naveed added.

Long-term consequences

Pakistan has a population of nearly 200 million people, with more than 25 percent under the age of 15.

Experts warn if the government fails to recognize the urgency in addressing education, there will be dire consequences.

“With no economic opportunities for youth, the outcome will be disastrous,” Naveed said.

Khadim Hussain, a political analyst from Peshawar, echoes Naveed’s concern, saying depriving children from education in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will have “unimaginable” results for the entire country.

“The children deprived of their right to education are potential terrorists as they can be easily brainwashed and lured towards extremism,” Hussain told VOA.

Over 60,000 people have reportedly died over the past 10 years due to terrorist attacks and most suicide bombers have been either teenagers or young adults in their early 20s, according to Pakistani media reports.

“Uneducated and unemployed youth will be an easy target for extremists and militant groups,” Hussain added.

KP government’s measures

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s government said it is serious about tackling the issue and has allocated over a quarter of the budget toward education.

“The government wants implementation of the education reforms and wants to ensure that every child goes to school,” Mushtaq Ghani, provincial government spokesperson, told VOA.

Recent statistics by Alif Ailan, an education advocacy organization in Pakistan, reveal 48 percent of primary and secondary schools in KP region have to operate without adequate physical infrastructure.

“The government has released billions of funds [Pakistani Rupees] to build infrastructure of schools, including boundary walls, restrooms, furniture, drinking water and electricity,” Ghani said. “Parents will be charged with fine or imprisonment if they fail to send their sons or daughters to school.”

However, education expert Arif Naveed is critical of the legislation and said such bills are symbolic.

Madrasas as substitutes

Parents who cannot financially afford to sending their children to mainstream education institutions, they consequently send their children to local madrasas [religious seminaries], most of which do not charge fees, and provide children with food and accommodation.

Experts say these religious schools mainly focus on religious education and every madrasa teaches religion according to its own ideology and interpretation.

“There is a possibility children coming out of these religious seminaries will be inclined towards extremist views,” political analyst Hussain said. “In every street of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, there’s a madrasa. Every sect has their own religious school for girls and boys.”

Critics charge that these religious schools rely on outdated curriculum with little or no relevance to modern education.

“Government should devise reforms for religious seminaries, too. Madrasa registration and their syllabus is a big issue,” Sardar Hussain Babak, former minister of education in KP, told VOA.

A majority of parents, usually daily-wage laborers, prefer their children to support the family to put food on the table.

Because of that, some children do not go to school, either from the onset like Fahad, or later, dropping out to learn skills to work as laborers and earn money.

While pessimistic about the future, Fahad still keeps some hope that one day he will be able to live as a child.

“I want to be able to go to school,” Fahad said. But until that dream comes true, he wants to have a plan B.

“I will be a tailor in the future if I could not go to school,” he said.

VOA Urdu’s Shamim Shahid contributed to this report from Peshawar.

Source: Voice Of America

UKIP seeks ban on veils, new Muslim schools

LONDON: Britain’s anti-EU UK Independence Party says it will promote social unity by banning face-covering veils and barring the opening of new Islamic schools.

The right-wing party on Monday unveiled what it calls an “integration agenda” ahead of Britain’s June 8 election.

It includes bans on Sharia law and on wearing face-covering veils in public, and a call for the prosecution of parents of girls subjected to female genital mutilation.

Whittle also said there should be a moratorium on Islamic faith schools “until there is far better integration of the entire Muslim community.” Green Party lawmaker Caroline Lucas accused UKIP of “full-throttled Islamophobia.” UKIP played a major role in Britain’s decision last year to leave the EU but is struggling to remain relevant now that it has achieved its main goal.

UKIP’s only lawmaker in the House of Commons recently quit the party. UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has so far declined to say whether he will run for Parliament in June’s election.

Published in Dawn

BISP – Women Empowerment

BISP is internationally recognized as model social safety net program that provides a unique forum for empowerment to the poorest women. BISP is redefining the lives of its women by adding dignity, empowerment and meaning to their lives as envisioned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. We are fully committed to cultivate an environment where women are respected and feel themselves elevated and empowered.

Investing in women’s economic empowerment sets a direct path towards poverty alleviation and financial inclusiveness. BISP empowers its beneficiaries through its various initiatives. Besides managing poverty through unconditional cash transfers, BISP has embarked on poverty exit strategies as well making its beneficiaries self-reliant.

BISP is all about empowering women whether it is financial, social or political. By making CNIC a pre-requisite for financial assistance, woman beneficiaries of BISP have gained voting rights. Financial literacy and inclusion have been possible by making payments to beneficiaries through electronic means. The fact that BISP treats women as heads of families and transfers them payments directly, has not only empowered them socially but has also improved the nutrition status of the children as mothers spend for children’s food on priority.

BISP beneficiaries are mobilized for meaningful engagement to get their buy-in for all BISP programmes including Waseela-e-Taleem beside active participation of BISP beneficiaries to improve the services related to social protection (i.e. different services of BISP). Under this component, local level institutions of BISP beneficiaries are formed through social mobilization at the grass root level. As of today, 48,988 BISP Beneficiary Committees (BBCs) are established and functional in all 32 districts against the target of 51613. Against the target of 437,310 BBC meetings, 69,680 meetings have been held. Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) has established its beneficiary committees throughout the country to facilitate illiterate beneficiaries at their doorsteps and help them play pro-active role in the society. The members of these committees raise awareness among women in availing BISP facilities.

“Sisters in Success” is a BISP initiative to encourage idea generation and success transfer to motivate the BISP beneficiaries. Events under “Sisters in Success” initiative provide an opportunity to poor women beneficiaries and their children to draw inspiration from interaction with accomplished women. This initiative brings international and national women role models in front of beneficiaries to instill hope and motivation so they may break the shackles of poverty and emerge empowered in true sense.

Women empowerment and gender equality is foremost on the agenda of incumbent government. The long term national planning framework VISION 2025 commits to pursue women empowerment as a key priority area across all sectors of planning and development. It focuses on providing an enabling environment to every woman to develop her full potential to equally reap the benefits of economic and social development.

-BISP

Girl shot dead, another injured in name of ‘honour’ in Sindh

Three women including a mother of four children were attacked by their relatives in the past 24 hours in three different districts of Sindh. One of these women was killed in the name of ‘honour’, police said.

Matiari ‘honour’ killing
A teenage girl was shot dead by her fiance’s brother in a suspected case of ‘honour killing’ in Kari Dandh village within the limits of Noor Keti, Matiari district.

Basheer Ahmed Rind opened fire on Mehnaz, killing her on the spot as he suspected that she had an illicit relationship with a man other than his brother, police said.

An FIR has been registered against five suspects, including the main accused, on the complaint of Mehar Rind, the father of the murdered girl.

The police officer present at Noor Keti Police Station said the accused had killed the girl in the name of ‘honour’.

He said police, during raids conducted early on Saturday, arrested the prime accused with the weapon used in the murder.

Mirpurkhas ‘black magic’ murder

Ramchand Kolhi axed his wife to death in village Ali Khan Rind near Naukot town of Mirpurkhas district. Harnia Kolhi, the slain woman, was the mother of four young kids.

After killing his wife, the accused attempted to commit suicide by strangulating himself with a rope but was saved by villagers and later admitted to a local hospital.

No First Investigation Report was filed in the matter.

Police officials told Dawn that an investigation was underway to ascertain the motive behind the murder. The accused claimed that he killed his wife under the influence of “black magic”.

Girl shot for ‘honour’
A teenaged girl was shot at and injured in Daharki town of Ghotki district by her cousin.

The injured girl, Sadaf, was rushed to a hospital in Rahim Yar Khan in a critical condition.

According to police, Sadaf had eloped to contract a marriage of her free will with a young boy of the same town but she was caught by her parents and area residents and handed over to the police.

“Police yielded to the pressure of a close relative of the provincial education minister Jam Mahatab Dahar and handed her over to her maternal uncle, where she was attacked and injured,” a local journalist told Dawn.

The accused surrendered himself to police and confessed to the crime. No FIR was registered in the case till the filing of this report.

-DAWN

Racial discrimination: UN Committee to review Finland, Moldova, Armenia, Kenya, Cyprus and Bulgaria

GENEVA: The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is meeting in Geneva from 24 April to 12 May 2017 to review the following countries on these dates: Finland (25-26 April); Moldova (26-27 April); Armenia (27-28 April); Kenya (2-3 May); Cyprus (3-4 May); Bulgaria (4-5 May).

The above are among the 178 States Parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. They are required to submit regular reports to the Committee, which is composed of 18 international independent experts. CERD will also hear from NGOs and national human rights institutions.

The public review of each State runs from 15:00 to 18:00 and then from 10:00 to 13:00 the following day. Live webcasts of the public sessions held at Palais Wilson in Geneva can be viewed on http://webtv.un.org/.

Background

Members of CERD are independent human rights experts drawn from around the world, who serve in their personal capacity and not as representatives of States parties. The Committee’s concluding observations are an independent assessment of States’ compliance with their human rights obligations under the treaty.

United Nations

NA passes compulsory teaching of Holy Quran bill 2017

The National Assembly was informed on Wednesday that over five point two billion rupees have been disbursed as compensation amongst the terrorism affected people in tribal areas.

During the question hour, Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of States and Frontier Regions Shaheen Shafique told the House that the government is providing four hundred thousand rupees to fully damaged and one hundred and sixty thousand rupees for partially damaged houses.

She said a total of 1076 schemes have reportedly been completed out of FATA annual development plan during the last four years.

The parliamentary secretary said that the government has also undertaken several other projects for the welfare of tribal people.

Responding to a question, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz told the House that our missions abroad are continuously engaged in projecting soft image of Pakistan.

He said the comprehensive operation Zarb-e-Azb against terrorists has yielded very positive results.

He said extensive measures are being taken to develop a national narrative to counter violent extremism.

Responding to a question, the Adviser on Foreign Affairs said that there are presently 11764 Pakistani prisoners and detainees abroad.

Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir told the house that export is are witnessing growth and efforts are being made to find new markets for Pakistani rice.

He said the country’s trade deficit stands at twenty three billion dollars and the State Bank of Pakistan has taken steps to discourage import of luxury items to reduce deficit.

The House today passed the Compulsory Teaching of the Holy Quran Bill 2017.

The bill moved by Minister of State for Education Baligh-ur-Rehman provides for making compulsory teaching of the Holy Quran to Muslim students in all educational institutions.

Speaking on the bill, Minister of State for Education Baligh-ur-Rehman said it is not only our religious but also constitutional duty to make teaching of holy Quran and Islamiyat compulsory.

He said it is a consensus document and expressed the confidence that other provinces will also follow the suit. He said this bill will be applicable to all the educational institutions including those of the federal government and private institutions in Islamabad capital territory.

Under the bill, students from grade one to grade five will be taught Nazra Quran while simple translation of Quran will be taught to the students from grade 6 to intermediate. He clarified that this piece of legislation is only meant for the Muslim students.

Other members on the occasion appreciated the government’s initiative and expressed the confidence that the step will help the young generation better understand holy Quran and Islamic teachings.

The House will now meet tomorrow morning at 10.30.-Radio Pakistan

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