Law Protecting Afghanistan Women Blocked By Conservatives
By KAY JOHNSON 05/18/13 08:03 AM ET EDT
KABUL, Afghanistan — Conservative religious lawmakers in Afghanistan blocked a law on Saturday that aims to protect women’s freedoms, with some arguing that parts of it violate Islamic principles or encourage women to have sex outside of marriage.
The failure highlights how tenuous women’s rights remain a dozen years after the ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime, whose strict interpretation of Islam kept Afghan women virtual prisoners in their homes.
Khalil Ahmad Shaheedzada, a conservative lawmaker for Herat province, said the legislation was withdrawn shortly after being introduced in parliament because of fierce opposition from religious parties who said parts of the law are un-Islamic.
“Whatever is against Islamic law, we don’t even need to speak about it,” Shaheedzada said.
The Law on Elimination of Violence Against Women has actually been in effect since 2009 by presidential decree. It is being brought before parliament now because lawmaker Fawzia Kofi, a women’s rights activist, wants to cement it with a parliamentary vote to prevent its reversal by any future president who might be tempted to repeal it to satisfy hard-line religious parties.
Among the law’s provisions are criminalizing child marriage and banning “baad,” the traditional practice of selling and buying women to settle disputes. It also criminalizes domestic violence and specifies that rape victims should not face criminal charges for fornication or adultery.
“We want to change this decree as a law and get the vote of parliamentarian for this law,” said Kofi, who is herself running for president in next year’s elections. “Unfortunately, there were some conservative elements who are opposing this law. What I am disappointed at is because there were also women who were opposing this law.”
Afghanistan’s parliament has more than 60 female lawmakers, mostly due to constitutional provisions reserving certain seats for women.
The child marriage ban and the idea of protecting female rape victims from prosecution were particularly heated subjects in Saturday’s parliamentary debate, said Nasirullah Sadiqizada Neli, a conservative lawmaker from Daykundi province.
Neli suggested that removing the custom – common in Afghanistan – of prosecuting raped women for adultery would lead to social chaos, with women freely engaging in extramarital sex safe in the knowledge they could claim rape if caught.
Lawmaker Shaheedzada also claimed that the law might encourage promiscuity among girls and women, saying it reflected Western values not applicable in Afghanistan.
“Even now in Afghanistan, women are running from their husbands. Girls are running from home,” Shaheedzada said. “Such laws give them these ideas.”
Freedoms for women are one of the most visible – and symbolic – changes in Afghanistan since 2001 U.S.-led campaign that toppled the Taliban regime. Aside from their support for al-Qaida leaders, the Taliban are probably most notorious for their harsh treatment of women under their severe interpretation of Islamic law.
For five years, the regime banned women from working and going to school, or even leaving home without a male relative. In public, all women were forced wear a head-to-toe burqa veil, which covers even the face with a mesh panel. Violators were publicly flogged or executed. Freeing women from such draconian laws lent a moral air to the Afghan war.
Since then, women’s freedoms have improved vastly, but Afghanistan remains a deeply conservative culture, especially in rural areas.
Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez contributed in Kabul.
I heard whispers of this on National Public Radio, and found this write up on The International Business Times website. The message is simple – in a country where even a glance can be interpreted as treason, express your non-support of the government by STAYING AT HOME ON FRIDAY, the day Ethiopians usually go out and visit with friends, gather together and mingle. Ghandi would smile; this is civil expression at it’s most civil
Let the empty streets speak for you. LOL @ a tyrant making staying at home a crime against the government!
Eritrean bloggers outside of Ethiopia started it, smuggling an old Eritrean phone book out of the country and making calls to acquaintances – and strangers – in Eritrea. People didn’t even have to respond. they could just listen . . . then they developed a robo-call to help them enlarge the number they could reach.
Eritrea is considered one of the continent’s most opaque countries. National elections have not been held in the Horn of Africa country since it gained independence in 1993. Torture, arbitrary detention and severe restrictions on freedom of expression remain routine.
President Isaias Afwerki does not tolerate any independent media, the internet is strictly controlled and Reporters without Borders recently named it 179th out of 179 countries for freedom of expression.
It is illegal to criticise the government, prompting the Eritrean diaspora to set up a campaign to reverse the Arab-style call to take to the streets every Friday by emptying the streets in protest.
“We made phone calls from diaspora to Eritrea,” Meron Estefanos toldIBTimes UK. ”We have a phone catalogue and called random numbers every Friday, telling them to stay at home and think about problems in our country.”
The phone calls “give them [Eritreans within the country] an opportunity to protest without risking too much”, according to Freedom Friday’s coordinator in the UK Selam Kidane.
The activists turned to a computerised auto-dialer called robocall to spread hundreds of thousands of taped messages to Eritrean phones. “It is time to restore our liberty and dignity” messages were sent automatically.
In another message, the mother of renowned political prisoner Aster Yohannes recalls the fate of her daughter, who was arrested in 2003 and has disappeared.
After two years, the movement is finally gaining momentum inside the country.
“Now they trust us inside the country, we have our team in Eritrea that puts out posters and leaflets late at night,” Estefanos said.
“The plan now that we have their trust is asking them to go out and demonstrate.”
About 1,500 Eritreans leave their country every month, according to the United Nations, paying up to 30,000 euros ($39,500) each to seek a new life free of grinding poverty and repression.
Earlier this year, Amnesty International put the spotlight on Eritrean asylum-seekers who are kidnapped from Sudanese refugee camps by the local Rashaida tribe, sold to Bedouin criminals in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula and severely abused while they are held for ransom.
One thousand refugees are held captive in the Sinai, according to reports. About 7,000 people in total may have been tortured and 4,000 may have died as a result of the people-trafficking in humans from 2009 to October 2012, according to recent data. A total of 3,000 people disappeared from 2007-11.
This boggles my mind – 57 people producing meth in a city with a population of around 50K. These people are driving cars, shopping in grocery stores, all mildly deranged, at best, by the drug they produce. I am delighted they have been arrested and I am appalled to know they were on the streets:
Fifty-seven people allegedly involved in two major meth organizations in Escambia County were arrested this week, federal and state authorities said.
The results of the mass arrests, the result of a seven-month investigation, were announced during a news conference Friday afternoon.
Seventy-six people on various meth-related charges were sought, Sheriff David Morgan said, and more arrests may be made.
Those arrested, many of whom were rounded up by 60 state and federal law enforcement agents that went out Thursday morning, were targeted as part of two major meth cooking and distribution networks located in north Escambia County, sheriff’s narcotics Investigator Kenneth Tolbirt said.
One is called “The Village Group,” is based at Lakeview and Forrest avenues in Cantonment, while “The Ayers Group” is based on Ayers Street in Molino, Tolbirt said.
The organizations had roles ranging from cooks to dealers. Many of those arrested in the past two days work as “smurfs,” and go purchase pseudoephedrine, a medication used to make meth, from drug stores, authorities said.
The bust comes in the wake of 12 people being indicted in federal court on Tuesday for conspiracy to possess and distribute pseudoephedrine.
Morgan refused to say what was confiscated in Thursday’s bust, citing the ongoing need to prosecute the cases.
State Attorney Bill Eddins said he has assigned two assistant state attorneys to oversee the prosecution of the cases.
Bravo to the Escambia County Sherrif’s office for the careful, painstaking work it takes to craft an operation like this and to execute it.
Police Hunt Second Boston Marathon Suspect, First Suspect Dead
A search is underway in Watertown for the second Boston Marathon suspect, following the fatal shooting of a MIT campus police officer and a chaotic night starting in Cambridge.
Officials confirmed early Friday morning that they are searching for the second Boston Marathon bombing suspect in Watertown following a chaotic night that left the first suspect dead.
The Associated Press is reporting the surviving Boston bomb suspect is identified as Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, 19, of Cambridge.
“We believe this man to be a terrorist,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said at a post-4 a.m. press conference about the at large suspect. “We believe this to be a man who’s come here to kill people. We need to get him in custody.
All MBTA service has been suspended on Friday morning and law enforcement officials are asking residents of Watertown, Newton, Waltham, Belmont, Cambridge and the Allston-Brighton neighborhoods of Boston to stay indoors and for businesses to not open today. Also, no vehicle traffic will be allowed in or out of Watertown until further notice.
The suspect is considered armed and dangerous.
A robbery at a Cambridge 7-11 Thursday night was followed by the fatal shooting of a MIT campus police officer, then a carjacking by the suspects, which turned into a shootout in Watertown on early Friday morning, with one suspect pronounced dead at a hospital after the shootout and the other at large.
Driving in the Middle East is a whole other world, a world of chaos until you realize that the rules are different, no matter what the published rules are. To drive in Qatar, I started at 0430 on a Friday morning, when there was little or no traffic (things have changed) and would drive until traffic began to thicken. Eventually, I knew the city and gained confidence that I could drive without getting killed. In Kuwait, for months, I would only drive to relatively nearby shopping areas, or drive only on back roads carefully plotted on the map during low traffic hours. After a while, you begin to get a sense of things, and the sensation of imminent death lessens.
Adventures in Qatar: a radiator dropping off a truck in front of me, being hit on purpose by a man who didn’t like women driving, being pushed into a round about by a Hummer, being nearly assaulted by two young Qataris who believed we had insulted them by being in the lane where they wanted to be, watching men drive up the wrong side of the ring roads because they were too important to wait in line, later standing and laughing at their crashed cars – Daddy would buy them another. It sounds crazy, but you get used to it.
Kuwait was a whole different ball game, controlled chaos at high speeds. Adventures in Kuwait: the sleeping elderly man driving in the lane next to me who almost hit me, watching drivers drive through red lights as if they were green, sparks off the fenders of SUVs on Highway 30 as people wove quickly in and out of traffic, the dramatic crashed and burned out cars on the sides of the highways, the car impaled on a palm tree – 10 feet above the road. Kuwait was so surreal that I couldn’t even begin to imagine how some of the accidents happened; I learned to be a very prayerful driver.
So out of idle curiosity, today I looked up highest rate of traffic fatalities per country, and found this on Wikipedia. So here’s a surprise . . . Kuwait’s fatalities statistic is roughly equal to that of the United States. Qatar’s is significantly higher, and many countries are even double or triple Kuwaits fatality rate. I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around this.
List of countries Fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants
Benin 31.2 1
Bosnia and Herzegovina 10.9
British Virgin Islands 21.7
Brunei Darussalam 13.8
Burkina Faso 31.1
Cape Verde 25.1
Central African Republic 32.2
Republic of the Congo 28.8
Cook Islands 45.0
Costa Rica 15.4
Czech Republic 10.4
Dominican Republic 17.3
El Salvador 12.6
The Gambia 36.6
Republic of Ireland 3.51
Republic of Korea 11.3
Marshall Islands 7.4
Federated States of Micronesia 14.4
New Zealand 8.6
Palestinian territories 5.6
Papua New Guinea 14.2
Puerto Rico 12.8
Republic of Macedonia 6.9
Republic of Moldova 15.1
Saint Lucia 17.6
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 6.6
San Marino 0
Sao Tome and Principe 33.0
Saudi Arabia 29.0
Sierra Leone 28.3
Solomon Islands 16.9
South Africa 33.2
Sri Lanka 13.5
Syrian Arab Republic 32.9
Trinidad and Tobago 15.5
United Arab Emirates 37.1
United Kingdom 3.59
United Republic of Tanzania 34.3
United States of America 12.3
Like all statistics, I think some are honest, and some need to be taken with a grain of salt. I found reading through them fascinating. You can get more information, accidents per thousand cars, total accidents, etc.
This is on AOL News – information on the first victim from the first blast in the Boston Marathon. This is your victim, bomber, an eight year old boy. His mother is also hospitalized. Hang your head in shame.
Martin Richard was standing near the finish line, waiting for his father to complete the grueling Boston Marathon on Monday, when an explosion took his life.
He was 8 years old and in the third grade.
Neighbor Jane Sherman told WCVB that Martin was a typical little boy, who loved to ride his bike and play baseball.
Martin’s mother, Denise, was hospitalized with “grievous injuries,” The Times of London reported. She reportedly underwent surgery late Monday for an injury to her brain.
His 6-year-old sister, a first grader whose name was not made public, lost her leg in the blast, WHDH reported.
The status of his father, William, has not been released. A third child was reportedly unharmed in the explosion.
Boston Marathon Winners, lost in the aftermath of the explosions:
This is the face of America – welcoming all nations and all races to compete in the Boston Marathon. The winners were Ethiopian and Kenyan, and we celebrate their victories, year after year. Their nationality doesn’t concern us, their race is irrelevant, their politics are their own – they are all welcome to race, runners from all nations.
BOSTON — The Kenyans finally face a challenge to their dominance of the Boston Marathon, and it’s from their East African neighbors.
Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa took the title in the 117th edition of the world’s oldest marathon on Monday, winning a three-way sprint down Boylston Street to finish in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 22 seconds and snap a string of three consecutive Kenyan victories.
“Here we have a relative newcomer,” said Ethiopia’s Gebregziabher Gebremariam, who finished third. “Everything changes.”
In just his second race at the 26.2-mile distance, Desisa finished 5 seconds ahead of Kenya’s Micah Kogo to earn $150,000 and the traditional olive wreath. American Jason Hartmann finished fourth for the second year in a row.
“It was more of a tactical race, the Ethiopian versus the Kenyans. That fight played out very well,” defending champion Wesley Korir, a Kenyan citizen and U.S. resident, said after finishing fifth.