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26th December   

An Eye for an Eye...

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Pakistan imposes medieval punishments
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A Pakistani court has ruled that two brothers should have their noses and ears cut off after they were found guilty of doing the same to a woman who refused to marry one of them. The judge at an anti-terrorism court in the eastern city of Lahore handed down the sentences in line with the Islamic law of Qisas.

The law stipulates punishment equal to the crime, akin to an eye-for-an-eye, unless the culprit is pardoned by the victim or the victim's family.

The two brothers, Sher Mohammad and Amanat Ali, abducted their 22-year-old cousin, Fazeelat Bibi, at gunpoint in September after her father refused to let her marry Mohammad. They put a noose around her neck and tried to strangle her. After failing to do so, Sher Mohammad chopped of her nose and ears with a knife, government prosecutor Ehtesham Qadir said.

Such sentences are rarely handed down by Pakistani courts and have always been revoked on appeal. The court also sentenced the pair to life in prison, Qadir said.


9th December   

Update: Queen Honoured...


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Jordan's Queen Rania campaigns against honour killings
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Full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

Queen Rania of Jordan is challenging Islamic hardliners by supporting tougher sentences for men who commit honour killings .

Queen Rania, who regularly appears without head-scarf, let alone hijab, has given her quiet support to women's rights groups who want to change laws amounting to legal impunity for men involved in honour killings.

But standing against is are another symbol of the country's attempts to show a progressive face. Jordan's MPs, who have been given more power to hold the government and royal family to account than in other Arab countries, have shown little enthusiasm for the moves.

This whole issue is being exaggerated, and the reason behind it is not innocent, said Sheikh Hamza Mansour, leader of the parliament's Islamic Action Front. His coalition of Islamist and tribal representatives has so far blocked an attempt to introduce tougher sentences for men who have killed their sisters and daughters for bringing shame on their families: It's as if the government is giving up our personality to turn us into a Westernised society.

For Rania, it is deeply offensive that the killing of women not only appears to be condoned, but seems to be on the rise: the number of deaths reported, currently between 20 and 25 a year, is increasing. Sentences remain low, often as little as six months to three years in jail.

The government is introducing a special tribunal to hear honour killing cases, but a parliamentary alliance has so far blocked attempts to change two articles of the legal code. The first is article 340, which allows an in flagrante defence to a man who kills his wife and her lover if he finds them in bed together. It has only ever been used once. More important is article 98, a crime of passion defence, which is commonly used and gives reduced sentences to those who claim they commit violence in the fury of the moment. The government wants a minimum penalty of five years even under this defence, but is coming under vociferous attack.


8th December   

Baghdad Goes Miserable...

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Religious authorities close down Baghdad nightlife
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The raids came just before midnight a week ago. At the start of Eid al-Adha, the four holiest days on the Islamic calendar, hundreds of Iraqi police and soldiers stormed each of Baghdad's 300 or so nightclubs. Officers from the most elite units stood outside as soldiers slapped owners' faces, scattered their patrons and dancing girls, ripped down posters advertising upcoming acts, and ordered alcohol removed from the shelves.

They left many of the clubs with a warning – any owner who tried to reopen would be thrown into prison, along with his staff.

The official reason for the mass raids is that none of the premises had licences. The reality is that a year-long renaissance in Baghdad's nightlife may be over, as this increasingly conservative city takes on a hardline religious identity. Bohemian Baghdad did not last long.

The clubs are only the most colourful victims of the conservative crackdown. Other potential sources of liberal licentiousness have been targeted. Internet cafes have been told that filters will soon start blocking some websites, especially pornographic ones, and alcohol vendors in the city's international zone were informed they will soon be out of business. To some in Iraq, particularly the young, the government moves are a dismaying throwback to the later years of Saddam, who ruthlessly crushed freedoms he largely saw as subversive.

The government last month demanded that all 58 broadcast media outlets in the country start paying an annual licence fee and signalled similar moves for the press, both homegrown and foreign. Local journalists, who had enjoyed more freedom of movement and access to officials than in most other countries in the Middle East, have recently reported that several colleagues who tried to cover sensitive issues were savagely beaten by police and soldiers. Senior ministers have become increasingly sensitive to coverage of bombings after four massive explosions targeting government ministries since August.

One of Baghdad's leading Islamic figures, Saleh al-Haidri, happily claims credit for leading the crackdown on wayward youth – and for curtailing the city's nightlife.

They were forbidden under Saddam and they are forbidden again now, said Haidri, the head of the Religious Endowment Office. There is social and religious backing for this. Two months ago I personally talked to the Baghdad governor. I saw many youths drinking alcohol in the streets and in cars and I received many complaints from families, especially about nightclubs, which are dens of pornography and corruption. Believe me, they are a breeding ground for crimes and they anaesthetise our youth. They violate Muslim rules, but Iraq will not turn into a religious state by closing these dens down. We need to teach people culture and morals in order to rebuild this country, not allowing them nightclubs.


1st December   

Closed Due to Dead City...

Nightlife in Paris goes to sleep
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Paris may attract more visitors than any other city, but after dark the City of Light risks becoming the Capital of Sleep unless something is done to perk up its nightlife, according to the latest French protest movement.

We must do something or soon everyone interested in nightlife will be forced into exile in London or Berlin, said Eric Labbé, an aficionado of electronic music who has launched a campaign to help to save the Paris club scene from extinction.

His petition has attracted 13,000 supporters who are appalled at a rigorous clampdown on noise and the closures of famous clubs. Part of the problem, says Labbé, is the growing intolerance of the increasingly bourgeois Parisians about noise after dark. This has resulted in the police imposing a law of silence on a city which was once hailed as a centre of nocturnal revelry.

Paris nightlife is becoming so dull, says the petition, that people in search of nocturnal thrills go to London and other European cities for fun. The point is made by a photograph attached to the petition which shows an announcement on a poster outside a club: Closed due to dead city. Please apply to the neighbouring capital.

The Moulin Rouge and its cancan girls have kept alive the idea of Paris as a city of fun, but supporters of Labbé's petition lament that such institutions are only for tourists.

Today we are a museum city, said one. There's more excitement to be had in London or New York.

A smoking ban in force since January is being blamed for complicating matters for nightclub owners as revellers spill onto the pavements to smoke and make noise.

Complaints from neighbours result in fines for clubs and several well-known nightspots have had their licences taken away, including Le Batofar, a nightclub ship moored on the banks of the Seine.

The protesters, who will hand in their petition to the culture ministry at the end of the year, are demanding tolerance zones in areas known for their nightlife, an initiative that seems to have won support from Bertrand Delanoe the mayor of Paris. He recently launched a bilingual internet website called Paris Night Life to promote the city after hours.

A night-time competitiveness study commissioned for the town hall showed Paris ranking fifth behind Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin and London.


28th November   

Not So Family Friendly in Tajikistan...

Amnesty International finds that nearly half of women are raped beaten or abused by their families
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Amnesty International has accused Tajikistan of failing to protect its women, saying nearly half are raped, beaten or abused by their families.

According to Amnesty, women are regularly subjected to humiliation not only from their husbands but also in-laws, causing many to turn to suicide.

The report's authors say the government should introduce laws and support services to tackle domestic violence.

Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan, is the poorest former Soviet republic where 98% of the population are muslim. Women have limited rights and job opportunities. Many drop out of school early to enter marriages that are often polygamous or unregistered.

Women are being treated as servants or as the in-laws' family property, Amnesty's Tajikistan expert Andrea Strasser-Camagni said in a statement.

Many women are driven to commit suicide but relatives usually cover up such incidents by presenting them as accidents, our correspondent says.


11th November   

Update: Human Rights Defender's Tulip...

Award for woman helping Iranians in danger of stoning
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Full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Shadi Sadr has helped Iranian women with free legal assistance and has started a campaign against stoning.

She's been awarded one of the foremost Dutch human rights prizes, the Human Rights Defenders Tulip Award. But not before experiencing the regime's violence against women first-hand.

They beat me and forced me to go with them , Shadi Sadr tells Dutch radio. She was detained last July in the wake of popular protests against president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and brought to the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. Her interrogators knew exactly who she was.

In 2004, Sadr had founded Raahi: an organisation for women in legal trouble. Because Iranian women have few rights and even less independent access to funds, they're often helpless in court. Raahi offered them free legal assistance, until the authorities closed it down.

She began a campaign to defend women who are sentenced to stoning , she says. Because the victims of this traditional - and in the eyes of many barbaric - form of punishment are almost never men.

When she was detained in July, her interrogators at Evin Prison accused her of being controlled by foreign powers out to overthrow president Ahmadinejad.

The Dutch government has awarded her the Human Rights Defenders Tulip Award for her extraordinary courage . But, she says, it's not just her struggle that's being recognized in this way.

She dedicates the award - which she received from Dutch foreign minister Maxime Verhagen in The Hague - to all the people in Iran who fight every day to get their rights. Despite the fact that the protests against the president's re-election were crushed, she remains optimistic.

Projects The Human Rights Defenders Tulip Award comes with a stipend of 10,000 euros. In addition, it includes funding of up to 100,000 euros for projects proposed by the winner, to further promote her or his cause.


26th October   

Diary: International Day Against Execution in Iran...

Let's stand up against the Islamic Republic Crime Machine!
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International day against execution in Iran
30th October 2009

Islamic republic is about to execute numbers of recent crisis protestors and political activists. We must stand up strongly against this preparation of Islamic regime to murder political activists and protestors.

Recently, the Islamic Republic executed Behnood Shojaee, convicted of murder at the age of 17. Few other juveniles who have been convicted under the age of 18, are about to be executed in the next few days. During these days; Mohammad Reza Alizamani, Hamed Roohinezhad, Arash Rahmanipoor, Naser Endolhosaini and Davood Farbache Mir Ardebili are sentenced to death for crimes such as; participating in protests, being members of oppositions and apostasy. On 6th and 8th October, 6 people were hanged in Ahvaz. This is only part of what this barbaric and criminal regime has done in the past few days. We must stand against this crime machine with full power and destroy their world of crime.

These people accused of participating in protests, are sentenced to death and according to their lawyers and some human rights organizations; they were arrested prior to recent protests and they are guilty of reporting news to apposition radios and attempt to leave Iran and refuge to other countries. Giving this situation, the Islamic Republic is trying to hang some of the protesters along with political activists in preparation for more executions. The officials of the Islamic Republic falsely think they are able to save their state by intimidating people.

International committee against execution is preparing an international protest against execution in Iran and particularly against juveniles, political activists and protestors execution and asks everyone to participate in these protests in this occasion on 30th of October. We must strongly standup against regimes' preparation prior to committing more crimes. Wherever you live, from any city, major intersections and in front of Islamic Republic embassies, parliament building and etc, prepare to protest.


15th October   

Update: Dangerous Words...

621 people prosecuted for blaspheming in public in Malta last year
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Full story: Blasphemy in Malta...Malta prosecutes many for villifying the chruch

Criminal procedures were initiated against 162 Maltese people for blaspheming in public in the first three months of this year, Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici said.

Replying to a parliamentary question by Labour MP Evarist Bartolo the minister said that similar proceedings were taken against 621 people last year.


13th October   

Settling Scores...

Spurned Egyptian gets Russian tourists incarcerated as prostitutes
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Egyptian prosecutors have finally dropped prostitution charges against three female tourists from Russia's St. Petersburg. The women had to spend nearly two months in an Egyptian jail.

The Egyptian police arrested the three Russian women in Cairo in the middle of August. It was said that an Egyptian man reported them to the police after the women supposedly refused to become acquainted with him. The man said that the women arrived in Egypt to work as prostitutes, and the women were arrested.

The women could send several messages to Russia. They wrote that they were kept in jail and were hardly given any food. Natalia Rudenko, 25, wrote: We sleep on the tiled floor and eat some crap food. Someone set us up. They took all our stuff from the hotel room while we were drinking coffee downstairs and charged us with prostitution.

Natalia's relatives said that they had addressed to the Office of the Russian Foreign Ministry in St. Petersburg and to the Russian Consulate Office in Cairo, but officials did not even listen to them at first.

The date of the deportation of the Russian tourists depends on the decision of Egyptian law-enforcement agencies.


10th October   

Update: Unisex Children's Toys...

By order of the nutters at the Swedish advert censors
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US-based toy retailer Toys 'R' Us has been reprimanded for gender discrimination following a complaint filed by a group of Swedish sixth graders about the store's 2008 Christmas catalogue.

Last winter, a sixth grade class at Gustavslund school in south central Sweden reported Toys 'R' Us to the Reklamombudsmannen (Ro), a self-regulatory agency which polices marketing and advertising communications in Sweden to ensure they are in line with guidelines set out by the International Chamber of Commerce.

According to the youngsters, the Toys 'R' Us Christmas catalogue featured outdated gender roles because boys and girls were shown playing with different types of toys, whereby the boys were portrayed as active and the girls as passive , according to a statement from Ro.

13-year-old Hannes Psajd explained that he and his twin sister had always shared the same toys and that he was concerned about the message sent by the Toys 'R' Us publication: Small girls in princess stuff…and here are boys dressed as super heroes. It's obvious that you get affected by this .

Upon reviewing the case, the Reklamombudsmannen agreed with the sixth-graders complaint, and have issued a public reprimand of the toy retailer.

According to the Ro's advisory committee the Toys 'R' Us catalogue discriminates based on gender and counteracts positive social behaviour, lifestyles, and attitudes . Specifically, the committee found that the catalogue feature boys playing in action filled environments while girls are shown sitting or standing in passive poses .

Taken together, the catalogue portrays children's games and choice of toys in a narrow-minded way, and this exclusion of boys and girls from different types of toys is, in itself, degrading to both genders, Ro said in a statement.

The public reprimand has no accompanying sanctions for Toys 'R' Us.


9th October   

Update: Kiss and Get Flogged...

Give Abu Dhabi a wide berth
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A Moroccan woman who was charged with having premarital sex with an Emirati man retracted her guilty plea after being told she would receive 100 lashes and a prison sentence.

The woman, identified as SM, and the man, KK, were charged with the same offence in the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court of First Instance.

KK denied the charge and said a description of his home SM provided to prosecutors was flawed and therefore undermined the evidence against him.

Under Sharia law, a conviction for premarital sex that has been denied requires four reliable witnesses to testify to the offence. But in pleading guilty, SM automatically made herself eligible for the mandatory punishment for the crime of 100 lashes.

In Abu Dhabi, offenders may receive prison time in addition to lashes. After she entered her plea, Judge Syed Abdul Baseer explained the punishment and asked SM whether she wanted to reconsider. The punishment is lashing and jail, Judge Abdul Baseer told her. You have the right to deny.

SM then retracted her guilty plea. Judge Abdul Baseer said he would issue a verdict on October 11.


6th October   

Update: Iranian Discrimination...

Where women's rights endanger state security
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A women's rights activist and journalist has been sentenced to six months in jail by one of Iran's Revolutionary Courts for having endangered state security .

Jelveh Javaheri, arrested in June 2008 for protesting in the centre of Tehran in favour of women's political and civil rights. She was charged with acting against national security by spreading propaganda against the state.

Javaheri is part of a group of Iranian feminists that begun a national campaign two years ago to abolish all of of Iran's discriminatory laws against women.

They also wanted to gather 1 million signatures urging the Iranian parliament to review parts of the civil and penal codes that in their present form could harm women's rights.


25th September   

Humanity Defects...

Tanzanian albinos murdered over superstitious belief that their body parts have magical powers
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Three men have been found guilty by a court in Tanzania for murdering an albino boy, in a ruling that campaigners hope will help protect the minority group from being slaughtered for their body parts. The landmark verdict is the first time anyone has been convicted of killing an albino despite more than 50 murders in the past three years.

Albinos – who suffer from a genetic defect that alters their skin and hair pigmentation – have been targeted by modern day witch doctors in East Africa who believe their body parts add potency to black magic rituals.

A string of brutal attacks in which members of the minority group have been literally hacked to pieces, with children as young as five being killed, has provoked angry criticism of the government.

The President Jakaya Kikwete has spoken out against the killers and banned witch doctors earlier this year, while police have arrested scores of suspects but Tanzania's justice system is notoriously slow and yesterday's conviction was the first of its kind.

There are an estimated 17,000 albinos in Tanzania and some researchers believe the genetic defect may have originated in East Africa. Today many albinos in the region suffer intense prejudice and are routinely referred to as zerus or invisibles.

The skin, hair, eyes and limbs of albinos can command thousands of dollars on the black magic market in Tanzania. These sums – often paid by educated, ambitious city dwellers who travel to rural witch doctors for help with business, family or sexual problems – have been sufficient for freelance killers to hunt the pale-skinned minority.

At least 53 murders have been recorded since September 2007 with the most recent killing taking place last month.


10th September   

Update: Humanity Sacrificed...

Witch doctors and child sacrifice in Uganda
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Full story: Witch Hunts...Witches still hunted even in modern times

When James Katana returned from a church service to his village in the Bugiri district of eastern Uganda he was told that his three-year old son had been taken away by strangers.

We were looking for my child for hours, but we couldn't find him. Someone rang me and told me my son was dead and had been left in the forest. I ran there and saw him lying in a pool of blood. His genitals had been cut off, but he was still alive.

A witch-doctor is now in police custody, accused of the abduction and attempted murder of the boy.

Despite the mutilation and terror the child experienced, police say he was one of the lucky ones. Uganda has been shocked by a surge in ritualistic murders and human sacrifice, with police struggling to respond and public hysteria mounting at each gruesome discovery.

In 2008 more than 300 cases of murder and disappearances linked to ritual ceremonies were reported to the police with 18 cases making it to the courts. There were also several high-profile arrests of parents and relatives accused of selling children for human sacrifice.

In January this year the Ugandan government appointed a special police taskforce on human sacrifice and announced that 2,000 officers were to receive specialist training in tackling child trafficking with the support of the US government. Since the taskforce was set up there have been 15 more murders linked to human sacrifice with another 200 disappearances, mainly of children and young adults, under investigation.

This year we have had more occurrences of people attempting to sell their children to witch-doctors as part of ritual ceremonies to guarantee wealth and prosperity, said Moses Binoga, acting commissioner of the anti-human sacrifice and trafficking taskforce.
Both police and NGOs are attributing the surge to a new wave of commercial witch-doctors using mass media to market their services and demand large sums of money to sacrifice humans and animals for people who believe blood will bring great prosperity.


23rd August   

A Stain on Humanity...

Afghan Taliban carry out threats to cut off the fingers of voters
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Taliban fighters carried out their threat to chop fingers off Afghan voters, election observers said.

Before Thursday's presidential ballot, the militants had threatened to hack off fingers seen stained by the indelible ink used to identify voters and prevent fraud.

Nader Nadery, of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan (Fefa) said two voters had each lost their finger in southern Kandahar province, which is considered the Taliban's birthplace.

Threats, violence and disillusionment all combined to keep voters away from polling stations after the Taliban had called for a boycott of the elections.


21st August   

Don't Kiss or Drink or Go to the UAE...

Europeans on trial for kissing and drinking
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The defence lawyer for two Europeans who are accused of kissing in public and consuming alcohol told the court that his clients are not bound by the Sharia law that prohibits both offences.

IK, a Russian woman, is charged with consensual dishonour and pleaded guilty to kissing, at the first hearing last week at the Criminal Court of First Instance. The man she is accused of kissing, ZV, is facing adultery charges.

The two are among five people who are before the court facing charges of adultery, consumption of alcohol and drugs. The three men and two women have been denied bail and are awaiting a verdict in their case.

IK told the court last week that the kiss was a normal greeting kiss, but the judge responded by saying: Maybe it's normal in Russia.

The defence lawyer, Abdul Khader Ghazal said: My client is charged with consuming alcohol but there is no such a charge of consuming alcohol under the Sharia law. We can establish that he was not drunk. As he is not Muslim, he is further not subject to the same rules we are subject to. UAE law, however, prohibits residents from consuming alcohol, irrespective of religion or nationality, without a proper licence issued by each emirate's police authority.

Ghazal said there were no witnesses for the adultery charges. Unless both the accused plead guilty, Sharia law requires four Muslim witnesses to testify in court.

The case was postponed for the judicial panel to review the evidence submitted.


16th August   

Update: Love Marriages...

India creates safe houses to protect newlyweds from murderous relatives
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Full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

Couples who defy traditions — and their murderous parents — to enter love marriages rather than arranged unions in India are to be given police protection in safe houses.

Police in Haryana, an affluent but conservative northern state, said that they had been overwhelmed by hundreds of cases in which couples had been attacked by enraged relatives for ignoring the strict social codes that dictate who they should marry.

Under a pilot scheme that will start this month, newlyweds judged to be most at risk will start their lives together under armed guard.

In the rural villages of Haryana, caste purity and adherence to traditions are paramount. As a result, the state has grown notorious as the honour killing capital of India.

To counter a sharp rise in such crimes, a safe house will be established in the Rohtak district of Haryana. The scheme will be expanded if successful.

Vikash Narain Rai, the director-general of police for Haryana, said: Villagers are becoming more exposed to the outside world and young people are choosing to marry without getting their parents' nod. We have to take action as we're seeing more and more cases of kids being harmed by their own kith and kin.

There are plans for a programme where police will explain the law to councils of village elders, who often sanction honour killings. We'll be telling them that these practices are bad parenting, Rai said.


12th August   

Update: Not Yet Ready to Ban FGM...

Protests against FGM that continues unabated in Mali
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Full story: Stop FGM...The nasty world of female genital mutilation

Some 700 Mali activists, mostly women, have marched in favor of the introduction of laws to ban the practice of female genital mutilation (FMG) in Bamako.

The demonstrators presented the request directly to parliament. The long overdue initiative, organized by the Coordination of women's NGO's in Mali, was repeated in other areas of the country, where more women also staged small gatherings.

The rate of FMG in Mali is very high, reaching some 92% said Nicola Giovannini of the No Peace without Justice NGO to MISNA. Giovannini said that in Mali, there is a strong political consensus for a law to ban the practice, but authorities have so far suggested that Malian society itself is not yet ready to penalize this terrible and very established practice. The participation in anti FMG protests suggests that there is an ever stronger – if long overdue - desire for change.


10th August   

Update: Stoning in Turkey...

Medieval realities of life parts of Turkey
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Full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

Last month a woman named Semse Allak was buried in a corner of a municipal cemetery in Turkey. She, unmarried and pregnant, had died from a stoning.

When she died on June 7, no-one from her family and relatives claimed her body and attended the funeral.

Villagers and local lawyers said Ms. Allak - as well as the man who had made her pregnant - had been killed to restore the 'honor' of their murderous families.

For seven months after her stoning, Ms. Allak lay semi-conscious, her skull crushed, unable to move or speak. Relatives visited once, in the beginning, to tell the hospital staff that they could not pay for her care. The fetus inside Ms. Allak died six weeks after the attack.

Just two days before Ms. Allak's funeral, the elected Parliament of this predominantly Muslim nation approved a sweeping human rights law that, among other things, abolished a provision that often reduced the prison terms for murders committed in the name of "family honor."

The legislation is part of a broader effort to secure Turkey's long-hoped-for admission to the European Union and, more profoundly, to answer the centuries-old question of Turkey's place in the world: whether in Europe or the Middle East.

The death of Ms. Allak underscores the distance between legislative pronouncements emanating from Ankara, Turkey's modern capital, and the sometimes grim, medieval realities of everyday life in other parts of the country.

"Honor is not a trivial thing," shouted Celilie Allak, Ms. Allak's sister-in-law, explaining the deaths. "What else were we supposed to do?"

Ms. Allak's brother, Mehmet, as well as four other relatives, have been charged in the murder of the man, Hila Acil, who was stoned to death at the same time in a field outside town. Despite last month's legislative changes, Mr. Allak's lawyer, Salih Demirkesen, said he was confident the local judges would understand.


8th August   

Update: A Hiding to Nothing...

A bill progresses in Pakistan to outlaw domestic violence
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Full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

A bill, which has passed unanimously in the lower house of Pakistan's parliament, will come into effect after it is approved by the senate and signed into law by President Ali Zardari.

Those found guilty of beating women or children would face a minimum six months behind bars and a fine of at least 100,000 rupees (£1,000).

The law will classifies domestic violence as acts of physical, sexual or mental assault, force, criminal intimidation, harassment, hurt, confinement and deprivation of economic or financial resources.

Human rights groups say Pakistani women suffer severe discrimination, domestic violence and honour killings - when a victim is murdered for allegedly bringing dishonour upon her family.

Rape is commonplace and used as a punishment in many villages.

Marvi Memon, a parliamentarian from the opposition Pakistan Muslim League, welcomed the bill and called on the government to ensure the law was implemented.


25th July   

Flogging Holiday Ideas...

150 women in the Maldives lined up for barbaric flogging after sex outside of marriage
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Almost 150 women living in the Maldives face a public flogging for indulging in extra-marital sex after being convicted by the Muslim country's conservative courts. Around 50 men also face the punishment.

Amnesty International's Maldives specialist, Abbas Faiz, called flogging a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment which is banned by international human rights law. The practice is humiliating and leads to psychological as well as physical scars for those subjected to it for years. [It is] a form of torture. The most recent official statistics available to the group date from 2006 and show that a total of 184 people were sentenced to flogging for extra-marital sex under a penal code that includes elements of Sharia law. Of those 146 were women, with the majority of the punishments still to be carried out.

In the Maldives the issue of flogging has become a political battleground following the whipping of the teenager earlier this month outside a government building in the capital, Male. Reports said that the women required hospital treatment after she was flogged in front of a jeering crowd of men.

Since the case was publicised there have been a number of demonstrations in support of flogging, some calling for the deportation of a British journalist, Maryam Omidi, who published reports of the incident in the local Minivan News.

Reports suggest that in recent years, many mosques in the Maldives have fallen under the influence of foreign, conservative imams. The previous president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had been Asia's longest-serving ruler and who positioned himself as the country's defender of Islam , had sought to use the religion to bolster his dwindling. The government in turn said that more conservative forms of the religion had been able to spread as restrictions on freedom of expression were lifted.

Last night, presidential spokesman Mohamed Zuhair told The Independent the government was committed to fulfilling its obligations to international treaties that prohibit torture. He added: The president is holding meetings with all concerned parties to try and deal with this.


21st July   

Pure Inhumanity...

Iranian girls raped to avoid a prohibition on executing virgins
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A member of Iran's notorious Basij militia who ran afoul of his superiors when he released two teenaged pro-democracy protesters says he was tasked with taking the virginity of young females sentenced to die.

Under Iranian law, a female cannot be executed if she is a virgin. Thus, prison officials forced young women into a brief “marriage” before their sentence was carried out.

In an exclusive interview with the Jerusalem Post, the unnamed male described how, as an 18-year-old Basij recruit, he was tasked with taking the virginity of girls who were sentenced to die:

I could tell that the girls were more afraid of their 'wedding' night than of the execution that awaited them in the morning. And they would always fight back, so we would have to put sleeping pills in their food. By morning the girls would have an empty expression; it seemed like they were ready or wanted to die.

I remember hearing them cry and scream after [the rape] was over. I will never forget how this one girl clawed at her own face and neck with her finger nails afterwards. She had deep scratches all over her.”


16th July   

Campaign: Beware of Laptop Thieves in Egypt...

Police and security services have found a new repression technique
Link Here

On the 30th of June 2009, the security officers at Cairo International Airport have detained an activist blogger, Wael Abbas, who frequently writes about torture cases and police abuse in Egypt. Abbas was also frisked and the officers confiscated his laptop computer and other belongings.

Actually confiscating personal devices such as mobiles, laptops, cameras, portable hard-drives during social peaceful protests, in the airports and different other places became a remarkable trend followed by the Security Services.

Such devices may contain personal information, pictures and files which should not be uncovered without judicial warrant. Further over Bloggers, Human Rights Defenders and Political Activists, especially in the Arab region, are highly subjected to this kind of threats, intimidations and violations.

Consequently, a group of Egyptian bloggers ,including Abbas, and human rights activists, came-up with the idea of designing a Badge to be used on Blogs and Websites having the following title: No to Illegal Confiscation of Personal Devices.

A Facebook Event was created to circulate the badge and to invite people to support:

How can you help?

  • Add the badge to your blog/website.
  • Write articles about the issue of illegal and extrajudicial confiscation of personal belongings.
  • Invite your friends to do the same.

Support the Cause, Put the Badge and Spread the Word.

Update: Jailed

17th December 2009. See article from

Egyptian journalist, blogger and human rights activist Wael Abbas has been sentenced to six months in prison according to his Twitter page. In his tweet he says I was sentenced to 6 months in prison in absentia, I don't know yet what for, will update you. His family home was raided yesterday and searched by plain clothed police while the activist was attending a bloggers' conference in Beirut.

Update: Acquitted

21st February 2010. See article from

The Egyptian appeal court has acquitted blogger Wael Abbas after being sentenced to six months by a lower court. The sentence came last November after an altercation on April 2009 between Abbas and his neighbor and Ahmed Maher Aglan and his police officer brother Ashraf Aglan, for accessing the internet. The two brothers raided Abbas's houses, assaulted him verbally and physically then sued him for damaging an internet cable.

It is known that Wael Abbas has become a target for interior ministry and its officers for more than two years because of his persistent endeavors to broadcast the so called torture clips . Officers have repeatedly orchestrated Abbas without being deterred by prosecution.

Update: Unacquitted

21st February 2010. See article from

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a court decision to sentence the popular and award-winning Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas to six months in prison and calls on Egyptian authorities to put an end to years-long harassment leveled against him.

In November 2009, Abbas was sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of 500 Egyptian pounds (US$90) on a charge of damaging an Internet cable, Abbas' defense lawyer Rawda Ahmed told CPJ. A Cairo appeals court tossed out the conviction in February, calling the charges unfounded.

Ahmed said the Ministry of Interior then brought the case to the Economic Court with a new charge of providing telecommunications service to the public without permission from authorities. According to local news reports, the Economic Court sentenced Abbas  to six months in prison and a fine of 500 Egyptian Pounds (US $90). Neither Abbas nor his lawyer was notified of the new proceeding.

This sentence was issued through a twisted legal path and reveals an invisible hand manipulating the case. The case was closed and we already proved to the courts that the charges brought against my client were fabricated, Ahmed told CPJ. Abbas remained free today; Ahmed said the new conviction would be challenged.


13th July   

Arrested then Murdered...

Saudi religious police identify girls who are then liable to be murdered by their family
Link Here
Full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

A Saudi women's group has blamed the country's religious police in the "honour" killing of two sisters shot dead by their own brother after they were arrested for mixing with unrelated men.

The Society for Defending Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia said the religious police had placed the sisters' lives in danger when they arrested them and then placed them in a Riyadh women's shelter.

The two women, identified as Reem, 21, and Nouf, 19, were murdered after they left the shelter on July 5. The brother shot them in the presence of their father who, according to newspaper reports, quickly forgave the son for defending the family's honour.

But the society blamed the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, or the religious police, for sparking the brother's anger over his family's honour by arresting the girls in the first place: These women have not committed any crime to be killed in a such brutal way. Arresting women for mingling with (unrelated males) should be stopped because it puts many Saudi women in danger and sometimes (costs) them their lives.

The women's group called on the Saudi authorities to charge the brother with murder and also bring to justice members of the religious police involved in the two girls' case.


10th July   

Family Slavery...

Saudi woman on the run for refusing to obey her father
Link Here

Saudi police are searching for a 28-year-old woman who ran away from a Social Affairs-run women's shelter in Jeddah.

Col. Misfar Al-Juaid, spokesman for Jeddah police, said the woman ran away while the police were preparing to take her to jail in line with a court order for failing to obey her father.

The court had ordered the police to take the woman to jail while it examined a case filed against her by her father. The woman fled her parents' home after accusing them of abusing her and sought refuge at the shelter.

The woman had earlier complained against her father at a summary court. The father had then filed a counter-case against her, accusing her of disobeying her parents, a culpable offense under Saudi law. Predictably the court refused to entertain the woman's petition and instead began examining the fathe's complaint.

Urging the young woman to return to her senses and surrender to the authorities, Dr. Ali Al-Hanaki, director of the Ministry of Social Affairs Ministry in Jeddah, said, The solution now lies in her own hands. Each additional day she refuses to obey the authorities will only worsen her problem. He added that the ministry had pledged to resolve her problem without sending her to jail. We have informed the court of our plans, which include arranging for her to marry and reconciling her with her family .


10th July   

Burnt by Custom...

122 cases of women burned in Lahore in just 3 months
Link Here

A monitoring exercise conducted by the law firm AGHS shows that from April to June this year, 122 cases of women being burnt were reported in Lahore.

Of them, 21 women had acid burns while the rest were injured by direct exposure to flames. Forty victims died.

Disturbingly, the figures have doubled as compared to the first quarter of the year. These cases constitute merely the tip of the frightening iceberg of violence against Pakistan's women. The figures reported above apply to Lahore but are unlikely to be lower in other parts of the country. Indeed, one wonders how many cases go unreported.

The forms of coercion range from emotional and economic abuse to gross violations of constitutional and human rights, including rape, burning and being handed over as settlement in disputes. Last year, at least two women were believed to have been buried alive in Balochistan. That a sitting parliamentarian defended the act as a tribal custom reflects just how endemic violence against women has become in the country.


6th July   

Offsite: Married to Inhumanity...

Forced marriage: 'I can't forgive or forget what they did to me'
Link Here
Full story: Forced Marriage in the UK...Co-erced into Co-habitation

An NHS doctor from east London who was held hostage and forced into marriage has spoken for the first time about her four-month ordeal, during which she feared for her life.

Dr Humayra Abedin, who was freed from her vows on the orders of a Bangladeshi court soon after The Independent on Sunday highlighted her plight, described the humiliation and pain she suffered at the hands of her parents, some members of her extended family and nurses and doctors in a private psychiatric hospital in Bangladesh last year.

In an exclusive interview with the IoS, Dr Abedin told of the moment she was abducted: My face was covered with a piece of cloth by men who told me they were policemen, before they carried me out into an ambulance which was parked outside the house. They held my arms and legs, carried me like a prisoner, while my parents stood in the background.

She was driven, kicking and screaming, to a private hospital, on the request of her family. During the journey, she was held down and gagged by three people as they tried to stop her shouting.

This was the first time I thought, 'this is it, I am dying', said Dr Abedin: I begged them to stop. And so began the nightmare.

...Read full article


3rd July   

Update: Cultural Rape...

Up to 7500 forced marriages reported in Britain in 2008
Link Here
Full story: Forced Marriage in the UK...Co-erced into Co-habitation

As many as 8,000 cases of forced marriage were reported in England last year, according to a Government report.

The study published by the Department for Children, Schools and Families claims that the overwhelming majority of victims are teenage girls from Pakistan or Bangladesh.

They are often coerced into getting married to preserve family honour rather than allow them to form relationships with boys from other cultures or religions, it is claimed, or to help others move to Britain.

The report says some of the young brides are forced to marry abroad after being taken on a supposed holiday then having their passports confiscated, while others are drugged or subjected to violence or threats if they protest.

Many forced marriages remain hidden because those involved are taken out of school, fear reporting relatives to the authorities or cannot obtain help overseas.

The report calculates that, in 2008, between 5,275 and 7,750 cases were reported to the authorities in England.

The Foreign Office's dedicated unit dealt with 420 cases last year – almost treble the 152 in 2005 – and has now issued guidance to health workers and teachers on how to spot potential victims.

Chris Bryant, a junior minister in the department, said: Nobody should be forced into marriage against their will or without their free and open consent. It is depressing that this practise does still continue, for whatever reason, and as a Government we are determined to do everything we can to put a stop to it and to protect the vulnerable. There is no culture in which this is acceptable in a modern world.


30th June   

Golden Opportunity...

Kuwaiti police investigate magic spells used to rob gold shops
Link Here

  Sgt. Gul Abul at your service!

The Jahra police have taken into custody an Iraqi man who goes by the name of Kaka for using a magic spell to steal gold ornaments from a shop, reports Al-Shahid daily.

The arrest came following a complaint filed by the owner of the shop who said two persons entered his shop and asked to see sets of gold ornaments. The owner added he displayed in front of the men five sets. After checking the men said they were not interested and left the shop. However, after they had gone the salesman was shocked to find two sets missing. He was puzzled because he did not see the man taking the gold with them.

However, a case was filed against the thieves and intensive police investigations led to the arrest of the two men who are believed to criminals.

During interrogation Kaka reportedly admitted to the charge and said he had stolen items in similar fashion with the help of three other friends after casting a magic spell on the salesmen.

Investigations are underway to find out how many thefts the suspects have committed in similar fashion.


27th June   

Travel Warning...

Asian expats arrested in Kuwait for hotel room sex
Link Here

State Security operatives arrested two Asian expatriates for committing immoral acts in a flat in Fahaheel.

Security sources said the operatives rushed to the scene and caught the suspects red-handed after the security guard of the building informed the security unit that a male Asian tenant had invited a female compatriot into his apartment.

They were referred to the police station and a case was registered.


26th June   

Update: Dramatic Condemnation...

New movie highlights Iranian injustice and the evil of stoning
Link Here
Full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

An Iranian woman is framed for adultery, then bound, gagged and buried to her waist in dirt before being stoned to death in a bloody and harrowing sequence in a new film in US cinemas this week.

The movie, The Stoning of Soraya M., is a dramatization based on the bestselling book of the same name by a French-Iranian journalist about a woman's death in an Iranian village in 1986.

The film aims to give a dramatic condemnation of the practice, which still occurs in countries including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia, Nowrasteh told Reuters.

This is overdue and it has been too long suppressed as an issue for open discussion, said the US-born director, who is of Iranian descent and spent part of his childhood in Iran: Fundamentally this film is about injustice.

The film stars exiled Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, whose character tells a passing journalist the story of her murdered niece, who was framed for infidelity by her divorce-seeking husband.

Those who say the stoning in this film is graphic should see a real one, Aghdashloo said.


23rd June   

Updated: Unappealing UAE...

UAE compounds adultery injustice as man is freed whilst woman loses appeal and remains in jail
Link Here
Full story: Adultery...Check the marital status of your girl

The woman recently sentenced to three months in jail in the United Arab Emirates on sex-related charges has lost her appeal against the sentence.

But, in a strange twist, the man Roxanne Hillier was alleged to have had sex with, and who had also been sentenced on these charges, has been released from jail.

As far as we understand, there is no other way that we can take this further in court. But we are exploring other options, Maxine Hillier said shortly after her sister's appeal was heard on Monday.

Hillier, 22, a dive instructor, had been fighting for her freedom since her arrest just more than a month ago. She and the owner of the centre were arrested during a police raid on May 16. She was later found guilty of being alone in a room with a man to whom she was not related, and of engaging in sex out of wedlock.

Her boss, a UAE citizen who is married with children, was sentenced to six months' jail and Hillier to three months.

Hillier's family unsurprisingly insisted the charges were trumped up and that foul play was involved. Strangely the authorities have listed Hillier as muslim when she is in fact christian. They said she had been working late the day of her arrest and had decided to sleep in a locked guest room at the dive centre, while her boss was working in another room. Her father Freddie said the police had forced their way into the centre and broke down Hillier's door.

Maxine Hillier said her family was battling to accept the appeal decision: The family is taking it badly. My sister and my mother are taking a lot of strain . However, they were still hoping to use the release of Hillier's boss to help her sister.


21st June   

Lethal Police...

Australian police kill man with 28 taser bolts
Link Here
Full story: Taser Not So Non Lethal...Taser stun gun proves lethal in police hands

Police in Australia are to review how they use Taser guns after the death of a man in Queensland who was stunned possibly as much as 28 times by one of the powerful electronic weapons.

Antonio Galeano, 39, an amphetamines addict, collapsed and died 15 minutes after being stunned by a 50,000-volt Taser gun during a confrontation with police in Brandon, near Townsville in far north Queensland last Friday.

Police said initially that he had been shot three times, but data recorded on the Taser gun has shown that it was triggered 28 times.

Galeano had gone on a naked rampage just days after being released from a psychiatric hospital. According to police, he was threatening to harm himself and officers so they tried to use pepper spray on him. When that had no apparent effect they Tasered the man, who collapsed and died while still in handcuffs.

Ian Stewart , the Queensland Police deputy commissioner, said that police were investigating whether the gun used in Friday's incident was faulty. He said that police had no guidelines on how many times a Taser could be fired in one incident, and a joint Crime and Misconduct Commission and police ethical standards command investigation will look into whether there needed to be a cap on numbers of firings.

The review has three main elements: we are going to look at our policies in the use of the Tasers; we are going to look at the training we provide our officers' and we are looking at the monitoring of the use of Tasers by the police service, Stewart said.

Tasers use a powerful electric current to incapacitate people, with the charge temporarily disrupting muscle control. Critics say that the weapon can cause injury, including severe heart attack in some people, possibly leading to death. Tasers have been blamed for hundreds of deaths in more than a million official incidents worldwide.


19th June   

Inhuman UAE Rape Law...

Women warned not to report rape in UAE
Link Here

A Brisbane woman was jailed for eight months in the United Arab Emirates for claiming she was raped by three men after her drink was spiked in a hotel bar.

The woman, identified only as Amanda, said she ordered one drink from the bar in the UAE hotel she was staying, but then remembered nothing until waking up the next afternoon.

Amanda, interviewed on ABC radio this morning, said she was arrested after reporting her rape to police and later sentenced to 11 months' jail for having illicit sexual relations and one month for consumption of alcohol.

I don't remember anything except for having that drink ... in one way that's a good thing but from what happened following, it's still an extremely traumatising,' she said.

She was released five months ago after securing a royal pardon after serving eight months, and is now home in Australia.

Amanda said said four high-ranking muslim men had to witness penetration to prove a rape charge, so women who reported rapes were typically seen as confessing to illicit sexual relations or prostitution.

I can move on, and I'm working on that, part of my process is to help other people with awareness of what's going on and making changes,' she said.

Amanda met with several state MPs this week to tell her story.

Amnesty International's Michael Hayworth said he sent a letter to United Arab Emirates officials, asking them to comply with United Nation's Women's Rights Conventions and remove discriminatory laws.


13th June   

Discriminatory Turkish Justice...

Not prosecuting honour criminals is ruled a breach of human rights
Link Here

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that Turkey had denied a citizen her right to life by failing to prevent her murder by her son-in-law and ordered it to pay damages.

It was the first time the court ruled against a state for failing to protect a citizen against domestic violence, Turkish broadcasters reported.

Turkey was also found to have violated the convention on human rights which prohibits torture, inhumane treatment and discrimination in Opuz vs. Turkey. It was ordered to pay 36,500 euros ($50,670) to the applicant, whose ex-husband killed her mother, according to a ruling on the ECHR's website: The general and discriminatory judicial passivity in Turkey created a climate that was conducive to domestic violence,


11th June   

Updated: Flirting with Repression...

More victims of UAE ban on sex outside of marriage
Link Here
Full story: Adultery...Check the marital status of your girl

A South African woman has been jailed in the United Arab Emirates for sleeping with her boss in the latest example of the country's hardline approach to sex outside marriage.

Roxanne Hillier has now been jailed for three months even though she agreed to carry out medical tests to prove there had been no sexual contact.

Roxanne Hillier was asleep in a room above the dive shop where she worked in the emirate of Sharjah when police broke down the locked door and arrested her.

They claimed she was having an affair with her boss, an Emirati, who was downstairs at the time repairing the shop's dive equipment. She was also accused of being alone in the same room with him, also technically a crime in Sharjah.

Her father, Freddie Hillier, said police records showed the raid was ordered after someone rang them to say her boss was using the room above the shop to have sex with foreign women: We believe it was aimed at the boss of the place. My daughter was caught in the crossfire.

Hillier said his daughter's big mistake was to sign a confession in Arabic that she did not understand: They were shouting at her in Arabic. She was scared and made the mistake of bowing to pressure. She thought that was going to get her off.

She was brought before a court on May 22 for a fifteen-minute hearing conducted in Arabic. Last week, she was brought before the court again to be told briefly that she had been found guilty and sentenced to three months' jail. Her boss was sentenced to six months.

An appeal in the case is due to be heard on Sunday.

Update: South African

Thanks to Freddie who pointed out that Roxanne is South African, not British as widely reported.


6th June   

Morally Restricted Development...

Russia enables night curfews for under 18s
Link Here

President Dmitry Medvedev has agreed a new law allowing local authorities across Russia to sweep youngsters off the streets, and extended the upper age limit from 14 to 18.

Already officials in Volgograd have announced plans to impose this law - in whole or in part - on their youth.

And Moscow, boasting the nation's liveliest nightlife, could join them in requiring parents to know where their kids are. The law gives regional authorities the power to bar unaccompanied under-18s from some public places, such as in the street, stadiums, parks, squares, public transport and Internet cafes, between 10pm and 6am.

Youngsters will also be barred from nightclubs, licensed premises and sex shops - even though the age of consent in Russia is 16. Individual authorities can add their own hit list of places damaging the physical, spiritual and moral development of children.


4th June   

Update: Acrimonious Dubai...

More legal nastiness as couple are jailed for adultery
Link Here
Full story: Adultery...Check the marital status of your girl

A British woman and her lover have been jailed for two months for adultery in Dubai a crime in the repressive UAE.

Sally Antia was arrested after her estranged husband Vincent Antia told police she was conducting an affair with Mark Hawkins.

Mr Antia is thought to have informed police about the affair to benefit from laws under which wronged husbands get custody of the children.

Mrs Antia and her boyfriend will spend the next month in the spartan Al Aweer prison after which they will be deported to Britain. They were sentenced to two months but will serve only one after the month they have already spent in the cells is taken into account.

Under Emirati law, there is very little legal provision for Mrs Antia to get custody of her two girls, aged 11 and 13, who are being looked after by their father in Dubai. And being convicted of a dishonour crime could wreck her chances completely.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: Sally and Mark should not be in jail right now and should never have been facing criminal charges in the first place. The sex lives of consenting adults shouldn't be a criminal matter. Sally and Mark should be released, immediately and unconditionally.

Update: Sentence Completed

18th June 2009. See article from

A British mother jailed for adultery in Dubai has been freed - straight into the arms of the husband who put her behind bars. Sally Antia has apparently decided to forgive Vincent Antia even though he told police she was having an affair, which is illegal in the Islamic country.

Both Antia and her lover Hawkins served six weeks of their two-month sentence. Two weeks were spent in prison, the rest being in a police cell awaiting trial.


3rd June   

Nothing to Hide...

When bag searches can cause untold grief
Link Here

A Canadian court has ordered a cinema to pay $10,000 damages after staff searched a family's bags looking for camera equipment, but ended up breaching their privacy. The search by staff also turned up something embarrassing in older daughter's bag. Mom had no idea. Not impressed.

When a woman took her two daughters to Cinema Guzzo in Montreal to watch Shrek the Third in 2007, they were searched for camming kit. Big trouble ensued.

Finding a stash of illicit smuggled snacks, staff ordered them returned to their vehicle, to be locked securely away so it would be impossible to consume them while watching the movie. The trio complied.

The search of the bags continued and then, jackpot! Although staff didn't find the latest DV camera, they did find some birth control pills in the older daughter's bag, an event that didn't go unnoticed by her mother. Until this point, she had absolutely no idea her child took them. Understandably ang., demanding $60,000 CAD.

Last week a judge ruled that the staff did indeed breach the privacy of the family and ordered the cinema to pay $10,000 CAD ($9,000 USD). Signs at the point of ticket purchase must clearly state that there is a bag search in place and staff must not put their hands inside people's bags. Cinema Guzzo failed on both counts, not to mention causing sensitive problems within a family and guaranteeing that they never, ever come back as customers.


3rd June   

Update: Four out of Ten...

Netherlands midwives record cases of FGM they find
Link Here
Full story: Stop FGM...The nasty world of female genital mutilation

Four out of ten Somali and Ethiopian women who give birth in the Netherlands have been genitally mutilated. This is relatively few, Health State Secretary Jet Bussemaker said.

The figures were recorded by research organisation TNO after questioning midwives. The number of cases of female circumcision is fairly low, since nine out of ten women in the countries of origin have been circumcised, Bussemaker reasoned.

To obtain a better picture of female circumcision, the state secretary previously announced that midwives would be registering this form of mutilation. They will also be trained in how to discuss circumcision with families.


25th May   

Stags, Hens, Nuns and Greeks...

British funsters arrested in Greece for offending the church
Link Here

Police in the coastal town of Hania on Crete said that 17 British nationals were arrested on Sunday for insulting the Catholic church after they paraded themselves dressed in nun attire and naughty lingerie.

A police source said that the group would be taken to a prosecutor to be officially charged and may be fined. But he added that they are unlikely to be jailed for what is a misdemeanour offence.

It was not clear whether the Britons were male or female, or whether they were attending a stag or hen party.


20th May   

Canada Descends the Slippery Slope...

Arrested and fined for not holding escalator handrail
Link Here

A Montreal/Laval cop cuffed and dragged a woman away, throwing her in a holding cell and writing her a ticket for Canadian $420 ...for failing to hold the handrail while she dug in her bag for her subway fare.

Bela Kosoian says when she didn't hold the handrail Wednesday she was cuffed, dragged into a small holding cell and fined.

It was horrible, disgusting behaviour [by police], said Ms. Kosoian.

Ms. Kosoian was riding an escalator down to catch a 5:30 p.m. subway from the suburb of Laval to an evening class downtown when she started rifling through her backpack looking for a fare.

Ms. Kosoian says she didn't catch the officer's instruction to hold the rail when he first approached. When he told her again to hang on, she says she replied: I don't have three hands.


18th May   

Killer Chip...

Saudi inventor attempts to patent poison implant locator chip
Link Here

A Saudi Arabian inventor has filed for a patent on a potentially lethal science fiction-style human tracking microchip, the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA) told The Local .

But the macabre innovation that enables remote killing will likely be denied copyright protection. [Great! so everyone can copy the idea unchecked!]

While the application is still pending further paperwork on his part, the invention will probably be found to violate paragraph two of the German Patent Law – which does not allow inventions that transgress public order or good morals, spokeswoman Stephanie Krger told The Local.

The patent application – entitled Implantation of electronic chips in the human body for the purposes of determining its geographical location – was filed on October 30, 2007, but was only published until last week, or 18 months after submission as required by German law, she said.

The tiny electronic device, dubbed the Killer Chip by Swiss daily Tagesanzeiger, would be suited for tracking fugitives from justice, terrorists, illegal immigrants, criminals, political opponents, defectors, domestic help, and Saudi Arabians who don’t return home from pilgrimages.

After subcutaneous implantation, the chip would send out encrypted radio waves that would be tracked by satellites to confirm the person’s identity and whereabouts.

An alternate model chip could reportedly release a poison into the carrier if he or she became a security risk.


11th May   

Update: Who's to Blame...

Witch hunting in Papua New Guinea
Link Here
Full story: Witch Hunts...Witches still hunted even in modern times

Nearly all the residents of Koge in Papua New Guninea watched as Julianna Gene and Kopaku Konia were dragged from their homes, to be hung from trees and tortured for several hours with bush knives. No one came forward to help. In the eyes of the villagers, the women were witches. They deserved to die. The finger of suspicion fell on the women after a local man died in a car accident.

A shocking increase in witch-hunt deaths in Papua New Guinea has prompted the government to launch a parliamentary commission of inquiry with a view to toughening the law. Joe Mek Teine, the chairman of the nation's law reform commission, has publicly declared that sorcery killings are getting out of hand .

Most witch hunts happen in the Highlands, the remote mountainous interior wracked by centuries of tribal wars and blood feuds. Contact with the outside world was only established in the 1930s, when some of the many ethnic groups were still living stone-age existences. Although there are no official statistics on sorcery killings, more than 50 were reported to the police in just two Highland provinces last year.

Belief in black magic is so ingrained that the government legally recognises sorcery, under the 1976 Sorcery Act. It permits white magic (healing or fertility rites for example) but the so-called black arts are punishable by up to two years in jail. This has resulted in murderers alleging the use of black magic as provocation and securing reduced sentences.

Branding someone a witch is a crime, but Detective Blacky Koglame estimates that fewer than 1 per cent of cases end up in court. Even when witnesses do come forward, he admits the police simply do not have the resources to investigate: And anyway, arresting people is very hard. Everyone in the community is usually involved, so you can't just go in looking for suspects, as you'd have to arrest the whole village, and that's impossible.

In one area deep in the Highlands a team of eight witch hunters claim to have tortured and killed 18 people between them. The leader of the group, a man with a reputation as a violent local gangster said: It is part of my culture, my tradition, it's my belief. I see myself as a guardian angel. We feel that we kill on good grounds and we're working for the good of the people in the village.

Witch hunts nearly always occur after a death or an illness of a community member. Natural causes for death or illness are just not accepted, said Pastor Jack Urame, a researcher at the Melanesian Institute and one of the country's leading experts on sorcery killings: So whenever someone dies in a village, a person must blamed.


10th May   

Unequal to the Task...

Spanish equality minister whinges at teenage disco fun
Link Here

The Granada disco called it an auction of single teenage girls, and the boys who showed up for this afternoon fiesta were given monopoly money to bid on the lass of their choice. The highest bidder won a free soft drink with his dream date at the VIP lounge.

The disco, Granada 10, said the auction was a common gimmick used by Spanish nightclubs to attract the acne-prone crowd during off-peak hours. But Spain's politically correct Ministry of Equality did not enjoy the joke.

It has called for an investigation by the regional prosecutor on children's affairs to determine whether this teenage romp constitutes gender discrimination and if so, who should be held responsible. This event is deplorable, sexist, rancid and out-of-date, from another era, said the 3Equality Minister, Bibiana Aido.

The Institute of Women in Andalusia is also looking into whether the disco's advertisement violated anti-discrimination law. And local politicians are advising parents on how to protect their teens from such discos.


16th April   

Update: Eloping from Inhumanity...

Honour killings from around the world
Link Here
Full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

Taliban militants publicly executed a man and girl for eloping when she was already engaged to marry someone else.

Hashim Noorzai, head of Khash Rud district in southwestern Nimruz province, said the two were executed by gun shots in front of a crowd of villagers.

Nimruz is a sparsely-populated area near the Iranian and Pakistani borders where foreign or government troops have little presence.

Mini Skirt and Mini Humanity

Based on article from

An Azeri immigrant in Russia's Saint Petersburg has been charged with hiring hit men to kill his 21-year-old daughter for wearing a mini-skirt, police have said.

The man's arrest follows the detention last week of two other citizens of Azerbaijan, a majority Muslim state in the Caucasus, who confessed to murdering the girl, a university medical student. They admitted to being paid 100,000 rubles ($4140) by the girl's father. They said he wanted to punish his daughter for flouting national traditions and wearing a mini-skirt.

The girl was abducted on the street in Russia's second city on March 8, taken to the outskirts of Saint Petersburg and then shot twice in the head, the source said.

Hacked off with his Sister

Based on article from

A Jordanian man confessed to stabbing to death his pregnant sister and mutilating her body supposedly to protect the family honor.

The man turned himself into police and has been charged with murder.

The 28-year-old married woman was five months pregnant and stabbed repeatedly in the face, neck, abdomen and back as well as being hacked up with a meat cleaver.

The incident is the ninth such case this year and the second this month.


12th April   

Update: 500+ Deaths Per Year...

Quantifying honour killings in Pakistan
Link Here
Full story: Honour Crime...International honour killings and family crime

Dr. Muazzam Nasrullah at the Aga Khan University in Pakistan compiled a statistical study that attempts to quantify honour killings in Pakistan.

Nasrullah used local and national newspaper reports systematically compiled by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan as the basis for his study.

A total of 1,957 incidents of honor killings were recorded over four years, the study reported. The majority occurred in response to alleged extramarital relations.

But Nasrullah said he is confident the results were lower than the actual number because not every event makes it into the media.

Honor killings are not unique to Pakistan, and the World Health Organization estimates about 5,000 women are murdered by family members in the name of honor each year worldwide. Dr. Claudia Garcia-Moreno, an adviser on gender violence at the World Health Organization, said honor killings are an extreme form of violence against women which we see primarily in the Middle East and in parts of Asia, but in many ways they are not very different than some of the murders that are being documented in other places.

Nasrullah said the most important conclusion of his study is that more research needs to be done on honor killings to reveal more about the causes and scope of the problem. His hope, expressed in the published study is that clear knowledge about the extent and the brutal consequences of [honor killings] may serve to alter traditional practices.


11th March   

Acid Survivors...

Domestic violence in Bangladesh
Link Here

At first glance, Bably Akter looks like any other nine-year-old Bangladeshi girl. But a headband conceals her left ear, badly deformed and the only obvious sign she is the victim of an acid attack, a practice rampant in the impoverished country, used mainly in domestic disputes and against women and children.

As her mother, Parul, recounts the story of how Bably's father put drops of acid on different parts of her body every day for five days when she was a baby, the little girl lifts her skirt to reveal a large scar on her legs and feet: Her father wanted a son. He'd been violent towards me before Bably was born but it was not until day five, when he actually fed her acid I realised something was seriously wrong

She complained to the police but charges were never laid: We ran away and spent two years at the Acid Survivors' Foundation (ASF) hospital where Bably had a lot of plastic surgery on her mouth. She still needs more operations.

The Dhaka-based ASF says most victims of acid attacks bear obvious physical scars, which make them pariahs. Bably is one of the lucky ones. Efforts in Bangladesh in recent years to curb the practice mean cases are slowly declining, but human rights campaigners say acid remains too easy to buy.

Acid throwing is rampant in the southern and northern parts of Bangladesh where it is used for dying the fishing nets and in the handloom industry, said ASF doctor Imtiaz Bahar Choudhury.

Last year 179 people -- three-quarters of those women and children -- were victims of acid violence in Bangladesh, with 20 cases already recorded for 2009, according to the ASF. The most common reasons for the attacks are disputes over property and dowry payments, and unrequited love where spurned suitors try to disfigure women who reject them.

The last major study into domestic violence in Bangladesh found that about 60% of women had been physically or sexually abused. About 19% of those had experienced severe physical violence, defined as being hit with a fist or object, kicked or dragged, beaten up, choked, burnt, or threatened with a weapon.

Poverty, especially hunger, played a significant role in determining the degree and frequency of violence against women at home in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, where 40%of people live below the poverty line.


10th March   

Update: Torture in Sierra Leone...

94% of girls mutilated
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Full story: Stop FGM...The nasty world of female genital mutilation

A female journalist was snatched by members of a secret society, forcibly stripped and made to parade naked through the streets. It might sound like an atrocity from the time when Sierra Leone was ripped apart by a bloody civil war, but in fact the public humiliation was exacted in the town of Kenema just this month. The woman's alleged crime was reporting on female genital mutilation.

While the attack was condemned by media watchdogs as disgraceful behaviour worthy of a bygone age, one woman who was not surprised was Rugiatu Turay. When she was 12 Ms Turay was stolen away by family members and underwent what some politely refer to as circumcision . She calls it torture . For the past six years, she has been waging a war against the practice, which many in Sierra Leone, including senior politicians, see as an initiation rite.

Her organisation, the Amazonian Initiative Movement, tries to protect young girls from the knife. I picked the name because I am trying to talk about strong, powerful women, she says Ms Turay, who works with her 20-strong staff in and around the northern town of Lunsar. So far, she has persuaded about 400 practitioners of female genital mutiliation (FGM), who are often called soweis, to lay down their blades and stop their role in the traditional bondo ceremony. Silence means consent. But if you say the truth people listen ... We go to the schools, mosques, everywhere.

As reward for her tenacious efforts, she has received death threats and been attacked by juju men, sometimes armed with magic, sometimes with machetes. She describes a time when more than a hundred people paraded a symbolic corpse outside her home to suggest her own death: They came right in front of me sharpening their cutlasses.

Ms Turay is among the estimated 94% of girls who undergo FGM in Sierra Leone. The practice – which forms part of a ceremony of initiation rites overseen by women-only secret societies such as bondo and sande – can cause severe bleeding, infection, cysts and sometimes death, but is largely ignored.

Reasons for the process vary, but many people cite tradition and culture, saying it is essential preparation for marriage and womanhood; binds communities to each other and to their ancestors; and restricts women's sexual behaviour.


5th March   

Fiction or Exaggeration?...

Reports and denials of Thai interrogation of CIA terror suspects
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The United States government has admitted for the first time that it had a secret jail in Thailand where suspected al-Qaeda operatives were flown in to be interrogated, including being subjected to waterboarding.

Federal prosecutors revealed the details in documents submitted to a court in New York as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. Prosecutors also revealed that 92 videotapes made and stored in Thailand of the questionable interrogation techniques had been personally ordered to be destroyed by the then head of the CIA, Jose A Rodriguez Jr.

The tapes concerning two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, were destroyed as the US Congress and the courts were intensifying their scrutiny of the agency's detention and interrogation programme. The civil liberties union is asking a judge to hold the agency in contempt for destroying the tapes.

In November 2005, the Washington Post and ABC News ran stories accusing the CIA of using rendition flights to transfer alleged al-Qaeda operatives to Thailand.

But Thai authorities were quick to deny the reports.

Supreme Commander Gen Ruengroj Mahasaranont said the ABC News report was just fiction and exaggerated .

A statement was issued by the Foreign Ministry saying: Our investigations with relevant government agencies reveal that there have been no such secret prisons in Thailand.

In the 2005 report, ABC News said Zubaydah was first held in Thailand in an unused warehouse on an active airbase. It also said that after he recovered from life-threatening wounds, incurred during his arrest, he was made to stand long hours in a cold cell and strapped feet-up to a water board until he begged for mercy and began to cooperate. In waterboarding , a detainee is strapped to a board, dunked under water and made to believe he might be drowned.

The Thai army chief General Anupong Paochinda has also strongly denied reports of the secret United States prison: I can say 1 million per cent that a secret jail like this has not existed in Thailand.


4th March   

Four Years for a Speck of Cannabis...

Travellers warned to avoid UAE, even transit passengers
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Poppy seeds in food, common over-the-counter medications and traces of banned substances are enough to warrant four-year prison sentences in the United Arab Emirates, travellers have been warned.

Visitors to Dubai and Abu Dhabi are now being advised to take extreme caution and avoid arrest for 'possession' of a controlled substance.

The advice, issued by the legal charity Fair Trials International, follows a recent spate of arrests and imprisonment.

The charity, which assists those facing trial abroad, has urged travellers to ensure they are completely free of any substances prohibited by the country they are visiting.

Earlier this week, a British man was imprisoned for four years after 0.003g cannabis was found in the tread of his shoe by customs officials in Dubai. Keith Brown was stopped in transit from Ethiopia to London last September.

The amount of the drug found on his shoe would not be visible to the naked eye and weighs less than a single grain of sugar.

Fair Trials International Chief Executive Catherine Wolthuizen said: We have seen a steep increase in such cases over the last 18 months. Customs authorities are using highly sensitive new equipment to conduct extremely thorough searches on travellers and if they find any amount - no matter how minute - it will be enough to attract a mandatory four-year prison sentence.

And the list of banned substances in the UAE includes many products which are available over-the-counter and off-the-shelf in the UK. These include medications such as codeine, a common ingredient in pain relief and cold-and-flu medication, and the common baking ingredient, poppy seeds.

Ms Wolthuizen added: What many travellers may not realise is that they can be deemed to be in possession of such banned substances if they can be detected in their urine or bloodstream, or even in tiny, trace amounts on their person. We even have reports of the imprisonment of a Swiss man for 'possession' of three poppy seeds on his clothing after he ate a bread roll at Heathrow.

Only last month a German citizen was detained for an alleged drugs offence when entering Dubai. Cat Le-Huy was found carrying melatonin pills to help with jetlag and sleeping problems.


3rd March   

Bride Fattening...

Forced feeding of young west African girls
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Fears are growing for the fate of thousands of young girls in rural Mauritania, where campaigners say the cruel practice of force-feeding young girls for marriage is making a significant comeback since a military junta took over the West African country.

Aminetou Mint Ely, a women's rights campaigner, said girls as young as five were still being subjected to the tradition of leblouh every year. The practice sees them tortured into swallowing gargantuan amounts of food and liquid - and consuming their vomit if they reject it.

In Mauritania, a woman's size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband's heart, said Mint Ely, head of the Association of Women Heads of Households.

A children's rights lawyer, Fatimata M'baye, echoed Ely's pessimism. I have never managed to bring a case in defence of a force-fed child. The politicians are scared of questioning their own traditions. Rural marriages usually take place under customary law or are overseen by a marabou (a Muslim preacher). No state official gets involved, so there is no arbiter to check on the age of the bride.

Leblouh is intimately linked to early marriage and often involves a girl of five, seven or nine being obliged to eat excessively to achieve female roundness and corpulence, so that she can be married off as young as possible. Girls from rural families are taken for leblouh at special fattening farms where older women, or the children's aunts or grandmothers, will administer pounded millet, camel's milk and water in quantities that make them ill.

Other leblouh practices include a subtle form of torture - zayar - using two sticks inserted each side of a toe. When a child refuses to drink or eat, the matron squeezes the sticks together, causing great pain. A successful fattening process will see a 12-year-old weigh 80kg. If she vomits she must drink it. By the age of 15 she will look 30, said M'baye.


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